Tiger Woods posted a two-under 69 in his first round of the Open Championship.
He had one of the lowest scores in the afternoon, and he’s tied for ninth.
After the round he told ESPN, “I really played well.”
It didn’t look like he was going to play well on the first hole.
He yanked his three wood left, hitting a tree, and getting a buried lie in the hay off the first tee. It was such a bad shot that he hit a provisional, which was also yanked to the left.
ESPN’s announcers called it the worst tee shot on number one for the day.
He found his original tee shot in the rough, took an unplayable lie for a penalty, smacked his shot to a bunker. He splashed out of the bunker, then nailed the putt for an excellent bogey.
That became the story of the day for Woods.
As he said after the round, “It was a round that I had to grind it out. I putted well, but more than anything, it was trying to hang on to par because it could easily get away from you today.”
And hang on, he did.
He got himself in trouble a few times, but managed to scramble and putt his way out of trouble.
On the back nine, he turned it on, going three under. The rest of the field was two and a half over par on the back nine, according to ESPN, when Woods’ round ended. (Some players were still out there fighting the course.)
The course is dried out, and playing hard and fast. Woods didn’t have to hit his driver once during the day. His driver has always been a bit of a fickle club, so taking it out of his bag gives him a big advantage.
The real key to his round, though, was putting. He was hitting a lot of putts to save par, and the occasional long range putt to get under par.
If he can putt this well the rest of the tournament, it’s over for the rest of the field. He’s hitting enough shots that he’ll get birdies if he putts this well.
Woods’ second round starts at 4:44 AM East Coast time Friday. By the time most people in the U.S. wake up, there’s a very good chance he’ll be leading.
That said, we’re not handing him the Claret Jug just yet. He has struggled on weekends at Majors. We’ll see if he can reverse his recent history this weekend.
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