Tiger Woods entered this week’s Open Championship at St. Andrews with an air of optimism, having played well in recent weeks and having won two previous Opens at what is one of his favourite courses. But that quickly went away in a first round that was almost a complete disaster.
He finished 4-over on a day when most of the field took advantage of perfect conditions and played well. He’s in 133rd place, 11 shots behind the clubhouse leader Dustin Johnson.
Woods problems were two-fold. His drives were overly conservative, often leaving himself with the longest second shot of his group, and his approach shots were all over the place.
The result is an opening round that saw Woods hit most of the fairways, but only about half of the greens in regulation (i.e. birdie putt opportunities). In fact, of all the golfers who had completed their rounds by the time Woods returned to the clubhouse, he was dead-last in greens in regulation.
The round got off to a terrible start for Woods with what was a combination of bad shooting and awful luck. On the first hole, Woods’ tee shot was a sign of things to come. You can see just how much shorter his shot was compared to playing partner Jason Day.
This left a long second shot which ended up in the burn just in front of the green. Unluckily for Tiger, if this shot is another yard longer — or if his drive was 10-20 yards longer — this probably ends up close to the hole for a makable birdie putt. Instead he started his round with a bogey.
On the second hole, Woods hit iron off the tee while his playing partners used drivers, again leaving himself a longer second shot. Still, it was just 177 yards to the hole and an 8-iron for Woods.
Woods didn’t even reach the green, leaving his shot about 30 yards short.
But his worst shot came on the short, 348-yard 12th hole. Woods left his drive just off the green and needed just a simple chip to get the ball up on the green for a birdie putt.
Woods just chunked it like a weekend duffer.
If there is reason to be optimistic it is that Woods did settle down some. After droping to 4-over after just seven holes, he was even-par on the tougher back-9 holes including 1-under over the final eight holes.
Still, on a day when the conditions were perfect and many golfers were going low, even-par is still not good. But at least it was the meltdown that many saw coming after the front nine.
Tiger is still not back.
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