Woods Shoots 1-Over-Par 73 in Round 1 of the Hero World Challenge
ALBANY, Bahamas – Tiger Woods birdied two of his last four holes to card a 1-over-par 73 on Thursday in the opening round of the Hero World Challenge at Albany in the Bahamas.
A five-time champion, he missed only one fairway in his final event of 2018, but struggled on the greens and sustained a triple-bogey on the back nine.
“I just didn’t feel comfortable with my game even though I drove it great,” said Woods, also serving as tournament host, with proceeds going to the TGR Foundation. “I didn’t hit the ball close enough or give myself enough good looks.”
Woods is tied for 16th in the stellar 18-player field, that includes 16 of the top 23 players in the world. Patrick Reed and Patrick Cantlay are setting the pace after 7-under 65’s.
The good news for Woods is that he feels better from a lingering cold.
“At least I’m not coughing anymore, which is nice,” he said. “I just don’t have the same energy.”
Paired with Justin Thomas, Woods bogeyed two of the first five holes, three-putting the latter. He bounced back nicely by holing short birdie putts at the sixth and seventh holes, almost driving the green at the short par-4 seventh. Woods parred eight and nine to turn in even-par 36.
After parring the 10th, he caught a bad break at the par-5 11th, where he crushed a big drive and grooved a towering high-cut with a 5-wood that landed on the front of the green and trickled just over the back, rolling down a steep slope of tightly mown grass. Faced with a difficult uphill third shot and little green to work with, Woods almost dunked it, but the ball slid six feet past the hole and he missed his birdie attempt.
The par-3 12th was his undoing. His drive came up just short of a hazard, leaving a testy chip. Woods’ second shot rolled backward into the hazard resulting in a drop and penalty stroke.
“I had a little patch right behind my ball and I tried to toe it in there in trying to make sure I actually hit it long,” said Woods. “I was trying to play for like a 10-12 footer coming back and it just didn’t come out and it blew back in the hazard.”
Woods fought back, hitting a marvelous approach from the left fairway bunker within six feet at the par-4 14th but couldn’t convert. He buried a 20-foot birdie putt at the par-5 15th, then closed with another at the par-4 18th, smoothing his approach shot to about five feet.
Woods hit 14 of 18 greens and used 31 putts, 17 on the front nine.
On Friday, Woods tees off at 11:15 a.m. ET with Hideki Matsuyama. There is no cut in the 72-hole event.
A year ago, Woods came to Albany ranked No. 1,199th in the Official World Golf Rankings. He started this week at No. 13 and could climb into the top-10 for the first time since 2014 by tying for seventh or higher.
“Yea, there have been thoughts of that, not just today but this entire week of where I started last year coming into this event and looking at how the year’s panned out,” he said. “It’s been pretty amazing.”