Woods optimistic after up-and-down 68
July 31, 2014
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
- Tiger Woods had six birdies offset by two bogeys and a double as he continues to search for form. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
AKRON, Ohio -- Playing just his seventh round since early March on the PGA TOUR, Tiger Woods said his opening 68 at Firestone was a step in the right direction.
It certainly showed an ability to recover, and from more than just back surgery that kept him out for more than three months earlier this year.
Woods made bogey or worse three times but bounced back with a birdie on each occasion.
"I feel like I made some progress," he said. "It's just going to take a little time. I'm starting to get in the flow of things."
Still, he trails leader Marc Leishman by four strokes after a pristine day for scoring in the opening round of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational -- a tournament Woods has won eight times, including last year.
After a sloppy three-putt bogey from 10 feet on the opening hole, Woods drove it well left of the fairway on No. 2 but was left an opening to reach the par-5 in two. He two-putted from 45 feet for the first of his six birdies.
On the fourth hole, however, Woods made another bogey when he left his approach short of the green and failed to get up-and-down. He again responded one hole later when he stuffed his tee shot on the par-3 fifth to inside two feet.
Tiger Woods interview after Round 1 of Bridgestone
Woods added two more birdies on Nos. 6 and 8, again hitting his approach shots close, but made a mess of the par-4 ninth. He pushed his tee shot into some trees and took two shots to get out before sending his fourth over the green and failing to get up-and-down. The result was a double-bogey 6.
Woods bounced back again, however, with an approach to 6 feet on No. 10 and added another birdie on the par-5 16th.
"If you look at my iron shots into the holes today, a majority of them were pin high," said Woods, who hit eight fairways and a dozen greens in regulation. "So I'm starting to get the feel back in my hands and get the ball, my trajectory under control. I'm starting to get the shots hitting the ball the correct numbers again."
Woods came into the week off one of his highest total scores in The Open Championship, a 6-over 294 to finish 69th at Royal Liverpool.
A soft Firestone should be a welcome sight, though. A year ago, he shot a second-round 61 on his way to a whopping seven-stroke victory.
"This is a good test out here," Woods said. "The wind's up, but it's soft. You look at a lot of these scores, the guys aren't going low out here. It's certainly gettable, but it's hard to actually get a really good one."