DUBLIN, Ohio – Back at a place where he has won five times before, Tiger Woods started the Memorial Tournament with a 2-under 70 that could have been better. It also could have been a whole lot worse. Some thoughts from strolling the Muirfield Village fairways alongside Woods in the opening round:
• Let’s start with the basics. Birdies on three of his final five holes got Woods into red figures, and at 2 under he was inside the top 20 and five shots behind Ryan Moore at the end of the morning wave.
• Woods had it going off the tee, finding 11 of 14 fairways. But the irons were a clear culprit as he found only 10 greens in regulation and often turned birdie opportunities into scrambling pars. “Hit a couple loose irons early,” Woods said. “But hung in there and finally got it turned around at the end.”
• Conditions were soft after an overnight rain, and there were plenty of red figures on the leaderboard. But Woods shared that the prime scoring conditions also made it difficult to control the spin with his irons, adding an extra variable to the equation. “Interesting thing is you try to take spin off of it with some of the short irons. They’re ripping back quite a bit with these slopes,” he said. “I’ve got to work on that on the range.”
• Woods teetered around even par for much of the round, but he needed a few clutch saves to avoid an over-par total. Errant tee shots at Nos. 1 and 10 both led to pars where he had to get up and down from outside 50 yards.
• Woods played alongside Justin Rose and Bryson DeChambeau, and the group was put on the clock after nine holes. “That made things a little more complicated,” Woods said.
• Woods’ best shot of the day came at No. 8, where he stuffed it inside 5 feet for a second consecutive birdie. His two bogeys came at Nos. 6 and 13, both the result of errant approach shots.
• According to Woods, this was a round that could have been “5 or 6 under.” Instead he’ll have to settle for a 2-under total as he looks to play the weekend for the first time since the Masters. “I’m definitely feeling a lot better, and I’m hitting the ball a little better,” Woods said. “I just need to not make a couple loose mistakes like I did today.”