Well, what do you know? Tiger Woods dusts off his old Scotty Cameron putter and he starts making putts again. The opening round of The Northern Trust was a smooth and steady one for Woods, as he recorded five birdies and two bogeys to shoot 3-under 68. It leaves him four shots off the lead.
Here are some things I think I think after 18 holes at TPC Boston:
• Tiger was spotted trying to loosen his neck and back during his practice session before the round. He admitted that he was getting hot oils applied in an attempt to get everything working properly.
He said, “My lower back is used to it. It’s accustomed to it. We do it all the time just so I can get loose. I decided to put some up on my neck, and it’s not as tolerant as my lower back, so it gets awfully hot.”
He shot 68. Guess it worked.
• It will always be weird to hear no applause when Tiger is announced on the first tee. No matter how long we go without galleries. Just saying.
• Hard to sum up this round. It did not start particularly well, even though he started on the 10th hole and had to play the most difficult stretch first. He was 1 over after eight holes, making one bogey and seven pars and it seemed like we were in for similar play as we saw at the PGA Championship two weeks ago. Then things changed.
• You may recall the par-5 18th hole. Tiger has torn it up – in a good way – quite a bit over the years. He hit his second shot to 23 feet and set up a real chance at eagle, but the putt was too aggressive. Still, he made birdie to make the turn at even par and steady the ship.
Scorecard for player 11111 during event 18511.
• After pars on Nos. 1 and 2, Tiger cranked out four birdies in the next six holes. It was a thing of beauty.
• This is the stretch where the putter woke up a bit. Birdie on the par-3 third hole was from 16 feet. He hit a beautiful bunker shot to 5 feet on the short par-4 fourth hole, made one from 6 feet on the par-5 seventh hole and then another from 7 feet on the par-3 eighth.
• So, about the putting situation. The putter that Tiger used at the PGA Championship was a bit longer, which allowed him to stand more upright, taking more pressure off his back. He went back to his old Scotty Cameron putter during the first round and was asked if he ever considered just re-shafting the old version to make it a little longer.
Tiger’s money response: “I’ve thought about doing that, but I don’t know. I just, I don’t know. I just can’t do it. I’ve regripped it. I’ve sent it to Scotty to rebuild the hosel because I’ve thrown it a few times. But I’ve never dinged the shaft. That’s the same shaft for the last 21 years.”
• The only real bummer came with a bogey at the last hole, but a wayward drive only allowed him to advance his approach short of the green and the ball was caught in thick rough surrounding a bunker. He failed to get up and down.
• Tiger hit six of 14 fairways, 14 of 18 greens and needed 29 total putts. He hit five fairways on his first nine holes, then hit the fairway on his 10th hole, but never hit one again.
• Tiger likes early/late tee times and that’s what he has. He’ll go at 1:17PM ET on Friday, again with Dylan Frittelli (69) and Matt Fitzpatrick (77).