Woods all wet at Quail Hollow
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Tiger Woods will need to stay out of the water if he hopes to contend at the Quail Hollow Championship.
Woods put drives in the water off the 17th and 18th tees Thursday and finished with a 2-over 74, leaving him nine shots behind early leader Bo Van Pelt.
“I was struggling so bad out there, just trying to piece together a round to keep myself in the tournament,” Woods said.
Masters champion Phil Mickelson began his round in the afternoon, walking to the first tee amid cheers as Woods crossed the scorer’s area.
Woods is playing his second PGA Tour event this season and hoped to build on a tie for fourth at the Masters three weeks ago, his first tournament back after rampant allegations of marital infidelity led to a self-imposed hiatus from golf.
He hit only four of 14 fairways while struggling through his opening round, though. Will that mean a hard afternoon of practice to straighten things out?
“I’m not going to the range today, no,” Woods said.
Things looked promising at the start when Woods, off a rousing welcome from a chilly crowd, hit a near-perfect tee shot on the 10th and birdied his opening hole.
Woods could barely keep anything straight after that.
A drive into the left rough on the 12th hole led to a bogey, and he saved par from near a holly tree on the 15th. Woods’ water world began on the picturesque, challenging par-3 17th hole, when his ball sailed into the water. His second try struck to the green, but he missed a 30-footer and came away with a double bogey.
“That’s just a bad shot,” Woods said.
His problems continued on the par-4 closing hole when his drive ended up in a creek along the left side. He came up short of the green after taking a penalty stroke, then chipped to 3 feet and made the putt for a bogey.
Woods followed with another bogey on No. 1, falling to 4 over through 10 holes.
He finally perked up, hitting to about 15 feet on the par-3 second and making birdie. Then he added another birdie on the par-5 fifth after reaching the green in two, and kept the surge going on the eighth hole when a chip to about 5 feet set up another birdie.
Woods ended with a bogey on No. 9 after hitting over the green on his approach shot, coming up well short of the hole on his chip and missing a 20-footer for par.
Despite his ups and downs, Woods remained quiet and reserved after both his tee shots into the water, simply staring at the ground or straight ahead. The loudest he got was early on, shouting “Not that much!” as his approach to the 12th came up short and led to a bogey.
Woods was criticized at Augusta National for harsh language following poor shots, especially after saying he’d tone it down when he’s on the course. He cursed during television coverage, too, which he apologized for after the tournament.
In fact, Woods’ final nine left him hopeful of a stronger second round Friday. “One good round tomorrow could get me back in it,” he said.
Woods said he’s tried not to pressure himself to achieve what he has in the past after his long layoff and what he’s gone through in his personal life.
“I try and be easy on myself,” he said. “But I know what I can do and I’m not doing it and that’s certainly frustrating.”
Woods was warmly welcomed throughout his round, although he admitted it was difficult to take it in because of his poor play.
“I had my head down struggling,” he said. “I was dropping balls out of hazards and finding balls in trees, so I had my own issues out there.”
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