PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Thirty feet away from his first bogey-free round at TPC Sawgrass, Tiger Woods instead stubbed his chip, dropped a shot and settled for a 5-under 67 Thursday at The Players.
Despite the bogey on the last, it was the first time in 16 tries that Woods has broken 70 in the opening round, and represented his best-ever start in the so-called “fifth major,” an event he has won only once, 12 years ago.
“I thought I missed all the shots in the correct spots today and left myself some easier up-and-downs,” he said afterward. “I made a couple of putts here and there, and I really took care of the par 5s (birdies on all four).”
Woods, who is four shots back of surprise leader Roberto Castro, took only 24 putts in the opening round, with 12 one-putt greens.
Woods ran off four birdies in a row around the turn, then tacked on a birdie at the par-5 16th to move to 6 under, in a tie for second. But a gust of wind blew his tee shot on the watery 17th long and right, and he needed a two-putt from 50 feet to save par.
On the next hole, Woods hit 8-iron from 197 yards but carried the ball pin-high – too far – and it bounded over the back. After leaving his third shot short of the green, his fourth never had a chance to drop.