PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – It was an eventful start to the Players Championship for Tiger Woods, who got off to a wobbly start but ended up under par. Here are some thoughts from walking the first round at TPC Sawgrass alongside the man himself:
- Talk about a colorful scorecard. Woods piled up six birdies, including five in an eight-hole stretch on the back nine. But they were countered by four bogeys, including one on No. 18, as he signed for a 2-under 70 that left him five shots behind leaders Tommy Fleetwood and Keegan Bradley.
- It was a roller-coaster back nine, one that included just a single par. Woods put his approach into the water on No. 11 en route to a bogey, made another bogey on No. 14 after blasting his drive way right and missed a 4-foot par putt on No. 18 to break 70.
- But all was not lost for Woods, who also had moments of brilliance. An arcing 5-wood found the green on No. 16 and led to a two-putt birdie, while his tee shot on No. 17 barely escaped the water before setting up another birdie.
- Tiger’s final stat line: 9 of 14 fairways, 12 of 18 greens in regulation and 30 putts.
- Woods withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational because of a neck strain, but he insisted that it was not a factor during his opening round even after taking a mighty lash from the right rough on the 14th hole that included an awkward follow-through. “Neck’s fine,” he said. “I’m all good with that. I was just trying to hit a big cut up there and trying to miss it in the left bunker, and to be honest with you I hit it straight on the top of the face.”
- Woods turned heads earlier this week when he was spotted working with putting coach Matt Killen, and the tweaks paid off in the opening round. Woods made a 28-footer for birdie on No. 13 as well as three others from outside 13 feet. “It wasn’t like I had to do a lot. I just got back into something I do naturally,” he said. “I feel like I can go ahead and hit it with my right hand again. That’s how I’ve always putted.”
- Woods was 1 over through his first six holes, and given the slow start he was relatively pleased with the end result that left him in the mix. But he lamented some of the late-round errors, knowing that light winds left the course vulnerable down the stretch. “I feel like I could have gotten something in the 60s today,” he said. “I hit some bad shots early, rectified that, made a few adjustments and then went about my business.”
- Woods will have a quick turnaround before returning to the Stadium Course, as he’ll start the second round at 8:32 a.m. ET alongside Webb Simpson and Patrick Reed.