Coming off of a victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational heading into last month’s Masters, Tiger Woods had high expectations and appeared to be tying the bow on a newly packaged swing. Things regressed at Augusta National. He fought off a vicious double cross and was lucky to hack his way to a 40th-place finish.
Three weeks later, Tiger has returned to tournament golf and the PGA Tour in the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Golf Club in North Carolina. Unfortunately, he brought some of the same struggles from The Masters with him. Tiger Woods is still struggling to find his rhythm off the tee.
Lining up to play a fade into the Par-5 seventh hole for his first shot at the top of the Golf Channel’s broadcast, Tiger unleashed a vicious pull hook into the spectators left of the fairway. It might as well have been a still-frame of one of his swings from April in Augusta.
The tee shot on seven somehow found a manageable lie and actually gave Tiger a great angle into the green, and Tiger was lucky enough to make birdie on the hole. However, that initial shot was a cliff notes version of his struggles on the front nine (he turned in 37.)
On the back nine, Woods settled down, largely because he ditched his driver and played a more workable three-iron stinger off the tee. He also received a bit of good fortune, as his second shot on the Par-5 15th elicited a whiny groan but wound up skirting into solid position, leaving Tiger an easy up-and-down for birdie that he was able to convert.
At the end of the round Tiger was able to come away with a one-under par 71, but Woods is already six shots off the pace set by his playing partner Webb Simpson and two others. Even worse, Tiger is tied for 56th place and he will likely need to shoot a matching 71 or better to avoid the drama of a projected two-under cut line after his round finishes early on Friday afternoon.
Tiger Woods declined to do a pre-tournament press conference this week, choosing to do a video Q&A with fans instead and drawing criticism from some members of the media. However, in individual talks with media members, Tiger claimed to have corrected the mistakes that plagued him at Augusta National.
Unfortunately, it looks like some of these same issues are rearing their heads at Quail Hollow.