Wow. Talk about a clunker of a round for Tiger Woods, who failed to card a birdie in the first round of the TOUR Championship en route to a score of three over par 73. It was just the seventh time in his professional career – and the first time since the first round of the 2010 U.S. Open – that Woods played an entire round without carding a birdie. The crazy part is that three of his seven birdie-free rounds have come at East Lake. He was also the only player in the field of 30 that failed to card a birdie on the day.
The only person behind Woods on the leaderboard is Jason Dufner, who finished the first round at four over. The two will play together as the first group out on Friday, teeing off at 11:40 am. At least that means Woods will have less time to stew over his disappointing first round showing.
Woods will enter the second round nine shots behind leader Henrik Stenson, whom he was paired with on Thursday. While Tiger was fighting and grinding, he had to watch as Stenson caught fire almost immediately. The day didn’t start poorly for Woods, but it really never got going. He had a birdie putt on the first hole, but failed to convert. That theme would continue throughout the day.
He only managed to hit eight fairways and 12 greens in regulation, but on most days that is something Woods would be able to overcome with the short stick. Not yesterday. Woods’ putter was by far the biggest letdown of his round. The average putts per hole for the field was 1.76, but Woods was averaging just over 2.0. He missed four birdie putts that were inside of 10 feet and needed 29 putts to get through his round – putting him 29th in strokes gained – putting on the day.
If he is going to have any chance at making up ground over the final three rounds, Woods will need to turn things around on the greens. I’m sure he put in plenty of practice yesterday, but we’ll just have to wait and see if that translates into results on the course.
Not surprisingly, Woods declined to speak with the media after his frustrating first round.