As it turned out, Woods missed the fairway at his final hole, a slight push that found a fairway bunker on the 18th and led to just his second bogey of the day. It was a victory by any measure for a player who struggled with the two-way miss at The Players and ranks 145th on Tour in driving accuracy.
“I hit the ball well all day. A couple of good putts, horseshoed a couple,” said Woods, who is tied for ninth after his opening 69. “I’m starting to feel better. It’s taking a while, but as I said I’m getting it back.”
The bigger question was his putting, he needed 29 swipes on Thursday, and his distance control was slightly off following approach and tee shots that carried over greens at Nos. 12, 14 and 17
Generous fairways helped, as did an extra half degree of loft in his driver. Woods switched to a 10 degree Nike Golf driver this week.
“As my release has changed over time with Hank (Haney) I’ve needed a little more loft,” he said. “I don’t have all my length back but it’s getting better each and every week.”
Woods also seems to be thinking like the rest of us. He said Thursday that he will take a scouting trip to Bethpage Black, site of this month’s U.S. Open, before the championship. Getting better each and every week is important, because there’s only one week that matters. At least in June.