Optimism for Tiger Woods’ return to St. Andrews evaporates after opening with 78
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Whatever expectations Tiger Woods had for this week’s Open Championship faded quickly on Day 1 at St. Andrews.
It started with a drive at the first hole that came to rest in an old divot, followed by an approach shot that landed short of the Swilcan Burn and bounced into the iconic water hazard for an opening double bogey.
Things didn’t get much better after that with bogeys at Nos. 3, 4 and 7 before he finally made his first birdie at the ninth hole to turn in 41. The inward loop was similarly adventurous with two birdies and three bogeys for a first-round 78 that left him tied for 145th and in need of a serious rally on Friday just to make the cut.
“[It was] probably the highest score I could have shot. Didn’t get off to a great start. Hit a good tee shot down 1, ended up right in the middle of a fresh divot,” said Woods, who tied his worst opening-round score at The Open. “I think I had maybe four or five three-putts today. Just wasn’t very good on the greens.”
After making the cut at the first two majors of the year Woods appeared poised for more progress at St. Andrews. The 150th Open had been his focus the moment a return to competition became a possibility following last year’s car crash that required multiple surgeries on his right leg.
At the Masters and PGA Championship, Woods made the cut with a surprisingly solid game considering his lengthy comeback, but it was the grueling walks at both Augusta National and Southern Hills that took a toll on his body and he was forced to withdraw from the PGA Championship following a third-round 79.
“It was a lot easier today, physically, than it has been the other two events, for sure,” he said.
Woods skipped last month’s U.S. Open with an eye toward St. Andrews, which is relatively flat and more conducive to a game that can no longer rely on power. But on a warm and relatively benign day at St. Andrews, it wasn’t his rebuilt right leg that was the problem. Instead, it was a game with plenty of rust.