In yet another return from injury, Tiger Woods certainly must have been hoping to play better than he did to open the Quicken Loans National on Thursday. Still, as badly as things started, there was just enough there to give Woods fans a bit of hope.
Starting on the back nine at Congressional Country Club, Woods couldn’t have looked worse early on. With seven bogeys to just one birdie in his first 12 holes, the 14-time major champion showed every bit of the “rust” he admitted he’d be dealing with earlier this week. He certainly wasn’t alone, as playing partners Jordan Spieth and Jason Day all made the turn at four-over-par, but falling that far behind is never a good experience.
On the positive side, Woods was able to take advantage of some opportunities on the easier front nine, closing with three birdies in his final six holes. Anybody worried about whether his back would hold up got good news, as well.
“The back’s great,” Woods said in his post-round media session. “I had no issues at all. No twinges, no nothing. It felt fantastic. That’s one of the reasons why I let go on those tee shots. I hit it pretty hard out there.”
It was far from perfect, and there’s still along way to go, but it was a step in the right direction. Don’t get me wrong – Woods is in a deep hole right now, but his appearance at this tournament is little more than a tune-up for the Open Championship and a way to boost ratings and dollars for his foundation.
Anybody who was being honest with themselves didn’t expect Woods to come out and dominate this week, but having him back and healthy can only be a good thing for the game as we head into the stretch run of summer.