WINDERMERE, Fla. – Tiger Woods showed signs of progress, but the end result is still the same.
After struggling in the opening round of the Hero World Challenge, Woods carded a 2-under 70 Friday at Isleworth Country Club amid relatively benign conditions. At 3 over, he remains in last place among the 18-man field, 14 shots behind Jordan Spieth.
Making his first start since August, Woods continued to focus on the positives from his game after improving his score by seven shots and finding 13 of 18 greens in regulation, including nine in a row near the end of his round.
“It really didn’t feel that much different than yesterday,” Woods said. “I hit probably two less worse shots than I did yesterday, but I struck them all solid yesterday and I did again today. Obviously I hit it a little closer today and made a couple putts.”
Woods birdied his opening hole, but stood at even through 12 holes of his round when the stars finally began to align. A 5-iron from 208 yards nestled within 6 feet of the hole for an easy eagle at the par-5 13th, then Woods made short birdie putts on Nos. 14 and 16 to build some momentum.
Torrential rain halted his round on the 18th tee with Woods 4 under on the day, but when he returned to the course he brought his short-game woes with him. After a series of chunked chips in the opening round, Woods again hit a chip shot fat on the home hole, leading to a double bogey. His only other blemish came on No. 8, when a skulled chip led to a bogey.
Woods assessed his short game as “not very good,” but rationalized his struggles as part of the overall swing changes he is making under the guidance of new coach Chris Como.
“A chip shot is a smaller version (of the swing),” he said. “So this is a different path than I have been using, and it’s showing up. It’s not quite ready yet. Just going to take more time, more practice.”