Tiger Returns with 2-under 70, Looks to Get Aggressive In Round 2 at Torrey Pines
SAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods entered the week with 60 competitive rounds at Torrey Pines under his belt. He was particularly jacked up for No. 61 Thursday during Round 1 of the Farmers Insurance Open.
After four months of training and reflecting on the 2018 Tour Championship win at East Lake, Woods was ready to get this thing started already.
“I’m not used to having this much adrenalin in my system,” Woods said. “It’s been a while, so trying to get a feel for how my body’s rotating and how much further I hit it in a tournament situation than I do at home.”
The extra juice led to a few shaky distances with the irons, but a 2-under 70 at the South Course made for a solid 2019 debut all things considered.
Woods birdied all four par-5s and finished the day with an 11-foot birdie make on 18, capping a five-plus hour round in pleasant conditions. He’s back at it at 12:40 p.m. EST Friday at the North Course, which played significantly easier than the South Course Thursday and presents an opportunity for Woods to climb the leaderboard in Round 2.
He’s T-53 and eight shots back of leader Jon Rahm, but Woods suggested he was just feeling things out for the first 18 holes. With all systems go, the game plan should look a little different Friday morning.
“It will be a lot easier,” Woods said. “As I get more comfortable, I’ll fire at more flags and start being a little bit more aggressive and start feeling a little bit more comfortable with the game and being back competing again.”
Woods started the new season playing with Tony Finau and Xander Schauffele, who was five years old when Woods picked up his first of eight career victories here at the 1999 Buick Invitational. They kept things light all morning, with Woods and Schauffele sitting and talking side-by-side on top of a cooler while they waited to tee off at the par-3 third hole.
Woods also gave Finau a hard time after an incredible recovery shot at the par-3 11th, where Finau was short-sided 25 yards left of the green and chipped it to two feet. He tried to play it cool while walking up to mark the ball.
“Don’t act so nonchalant,” Woods told him.
Woods hit his best shot of the day just a few minutes earlier, a 215-yard 5-iron that landed just three feet from the cup for an easy tap-in birdie.
“It was a really chill, fun and relaxing day,” Schauffele said. “Torrey South can be a beast and Tony, Tiger and I just sort of fed off each other a little bit here and there and I think we all enjoyed each other’s company.”
Woods hit driver 11 times and 3-wood three times off the tee on this tough, 7,698-yard layout. He hit 7 of 14 fairways and 12 of 18 greens and looked to be in control of his golf ball for most of the afternoon. There were a few misses to the right, but Woods looked confident with the driver.
He was 23rd in the field with 1.085 strokes gained tee-to-green and had good pace on the greens all day, ranking 25th with .325 strokes gained putting. There were a few narrow misses, including a 6-footer at 12 that resulted in one of three bogeys on the day. There were also some long makes, most notably a 29-footer at the par-5 13th.
“I thought he rolled it pretty good,” caddie Joe LaCava said. “Misread the one on 12 and would love to have that one over. That was a misread on both our parts. Other than that I thought he rolled it pretty good.”
While Woods wasn’t completely dialed in, there weren’t any glaring signs of rust. He said he felt like he could have shot 68 or 67 pretty easily. But an opening-round 70 after two months off will suffice as Woods looks to crank things up a bit in Round 2.
“I felt like I drove it pretty good today even though I missed a few fairways,” Woods said. “My feel was a little bit off in my distances with my irons. That’s just from not playing at competitive speed in a while. Hopefully I’ll have that feel a little better tomorrow and start hitting them exactly pin high, which I’ve been pretty good at for most of my career.”
He’s also been pretty good at this venue for most of his career and fought to hang around the middle of the pack Thursday.
Now he’s looking to make a move.
“Overall, shooting a couple under par on the South Course is not so bad,” Woods said. “But now I’m forced to have to shoot a low one tomorrow.”