Woods rues eratic putting after carding a 71

Thu Feb 27, 2014 4:04pm EST
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(Reuters) - Tiger Woods lamented inconsistent putting after he battled to a one-over-par 71 that left him six strokes off the early lead in Thursday's first round at the $6 million Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

While South African Rory Sabbatini and American William McGirt had few problems on the way to opening 65s, Woods, in just his third tournament of the year, said he had trouble adapting to the slow greens.

"I hit it probably good enough to shoot at least three or four lower than I did," the 14-times major champion told reporters after playing in relatively benign morning conditions at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens.

"First four holes, I had good looks (at birdie putts) and didn't make any of them. I hit it good starting out, scrappy in the middle and good at the end."

World number one Woods, who is playing the Honda Classic for only the third time as a professional, said he had misread several putts after being "fooled" by the speed and grain of the greens.

He began his round on the back nine and negotiated that without too many problems, a nine-foot birdie putt at the par-five 18th putting him at one under by the turn.

It was not until the par-four second, his 11th hole of the day, that he finally had a blemish on his card.

After a poor drive, he had tree trouble with his second shot, found a bunker with his third and was unable to get up and down from there en route to an ugly six. He then offset two birdies with two bogeys to end the day at one over.

The Honda Classic signals the start of Woods' serious preparation for the Apr. 10-13 Masters, and the greens at PGA National are vastly different to the slick, heavily contoured surfaces at Augusta National.   Continued...

Feb 27, 2014; Palm Beach Gardens, FL, USA; Tiger Woods on the 11th tee at PGA National GC Champion Course. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports - RTR3FSGB