LOS ANGELES – Here are a few observations from an opening-round, 1-over 72 for Tiger Woods at the Genesis Open that could’ve been a lot better – and could’ve been a lot worse:
• Let’s focus first on the good stuff. Woods’ short game was borderline exemplary, and his 25-putt total is the key reason why he even has a chance to play the weekend. He filled the card with five birdies, a total that he might happily take for each of the next three rounds.
• But there’s a reason Woods finished over par. Sloppy bogeys were rampant, including the par-4 fifth after a woefully errant iron off the tee found heavy rough, and the par-4 seventh where he stumbled after splitting the fairway.
• Then there was that pesky tree on the 11th hole that swallowed Tiger’s tee shot. Coming off a birdie on his first hole of the tournament, Woods sailed a drive well right into a tree and the ball never came down. The subsequent lost ball led to a double bogey and set the tone for a tumultuous round.
• In a minor victory given how he played at Torrey Pines, there’s progress with the driver. Tiger switched to a different model this week and – TreeGate aside – piped it with his longest club more often than not.
• But where he made progress off the tee, Woods regressed with his irons. He found just seven of 18 greens in regulation, including a stretch of five misses in a row on his second nine that would have derailed his round were it not for some deft touch around the greens. He missed the green on three of the four par 3s, including by pretty wide margins on Nos. 4 and 16.
• Woods will surely need something under par Friday in order to make the cut for the first time at this event since 2004. Regardless of score, he’ll also need to make a final decision on whether or not he’ll play next week’s Honda Classic, since the field will be finalized after the second round at Riviera.