Woods struggles in Round 1 at Tour Championship

By Jason SobelSeptember 19, 2013, 10:58 pm

ATLANTA – It's hard to say where it all went wrong for Tiger Woods on Thursday.

Was it missing a short birdie attempt on the opening hole that started his downward spiral? Was it the careless three-putt on the par-5 ninth that left him muttering to himself all the way to the 10th tee? Was it the approach on 12 that stopped short of the green? Or the one on 14 that bounced right over?

Maybe what went wrong on Thursday didn't even happen on Thursday.

Tour Championship: Articles, videos and photos

Maybe what went wrong on Thursday happened on Wednesday, when Woods eschewed hitting a single full shot in advance of the Tour Championship, instead rolling a few putts and receiving treatment in the fitness trailer before leaving East Lake Golf Club for the day.

Maybe what went wrong on Thursday happened a few weeks ago, when he tweaked his back, necessitating the aforementioned treatment.

Or maybe what went wrong on Thursday cant be explained away as any singular instance on the course or lack of preparation or physical setback.

Heres what we do know: It did indeed go wrong for Woods on Thursday.

Utterly, unmistakably wrong.

In the opening round of the Tour Championship, clinging to the top spot in the FedEx Cup standings, Woods posted a 3-over 73. That score doesnt sound so bad until you realize it was his worst number on this course in 15 years and left him in 29th place ' out of 30 players. He failed to card a birdie for just the seventh time in his PGA Tour professional career and just the fourth time in a non-major event. He lost to his playing partner, Henrik Stenson, by nine strokes.

We may have witnessed more things go wrong for Woods on the course at various other times in recent years, but this was clearly a day when absolutely nothing went right.

Afterward, he declined all interview requests to speak about the round.

It can leave our collective minds wandering as to what the problem was on this day.

There were a few slight winces and a couple of stretching exercises on the course, but hardly anything that would have suggested he was in immense physical pain.

There were a handful of shaky tee shots and approaches, but they were mixed with plenty of sublime shots where the ball succumbed to his very wishes.

If theres one bright red flag, it was his icy cold putter, which needed 34 strokes on familiar greens that have twice seen him win this tournament and four times finish runner-up. But even that fact only renders more questions. Was it from a lack of pre-tournament preparation? Did he expect them to be faster? Slower? Is there an imperfection in his putting routine?

Stenson, who vaulted into a one-stroke lead over Adam Scott based on his 6-under 64, had a front-row seat for Woods foibles and offered the following explanation after the round.

Obviously, frustrating on the greens, he said. He didn't make a birdie out there. That's very unusual. I wouldn't say he was playing bad, but, you know, it's one of those days. Missed a couple of times in the wrong spot and made bogeys on three occasions, I think, then.

I mean, if you're not making any birdies, then it's going to be a bad day, simple as that. On a good day, you might make one or two up and downs and then roll a couple in. We know how small the margins are. He could have been 2 under or 1 under with the same play if you just take your opportunities. Certain days, it just doesn't work out for you.

This was one of those days for Woods, but it shouldnt leave anyone screaming that the sky is falling.

He didnt play well, but as Stenson mentioned, he easily could have been a few strokes under par had some of those putts dropped into the hole.

He dropped to third in the projected FedEx Cup standings, but that is hardly a foregone conclusion with 54 holes remaining.

His presumed clutch on the Player of the Year award didnt lessen at all, those five victories still trumping everyone elses accomplishments and certainly outweighing one poor round at East Lake.

Of course, theres still time for Woods to pull everything together. Still time for him to figure out whatever was wrong on Wednesday, whether that was an ailing back or a lack of preparation on the greens or a flaw in his putting stroke.

Yes, it's hard to say where it all went wrong for Woods on Thursday. But its even harder to say how hell rebound from this round and perform over the next three important days.

Getty Images

Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 9:20 am

Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.

Getty Images

McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

Said Harmon:

“Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

“This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

“Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.

Getty Images

How The Open cut line is determined

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:57 am

Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.

The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

• After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.

• There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.

• There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.

The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.

Getty Images

The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.