Tiger Woods’ first crack at the FedExCup Playoffs in five years got off to a lackluster start with an even-par 71 during the first round of The Northern Trust in Paramus, N.J.
That left Woods five shots behind the leaders after the morning wave, with Jamie Lovemark, Vaughn Taylor and Kevin Tway posting 5-under-par 66s.
Top-ranked Dustin Johnson and No. 2 Brooks Koepka were among a group of 11 players to shoot 4-under 69s on Thursday, with No. 3 Justin Thomas another two shots back.
Beginning on the back nine at the Ridgewood Country Club, a composite layout of the 27-hole A.W. Tillinghast design north of New York City, Woods parred his first seven holes before rolling in his first birdie on the par-5 17th hole.
He made the turn at 1-under, but gave the shot back with a bogey on the par-3 second hole. Woods immediately rebounded with a birdie on the par-5 third, only to bogey the par-4 5th hole and close out his round with four consecutive pars.
“I shot even-par,” Woods dead-panned when asked how he played after the round.
“Because I made the last putt,” the only two-time winner of the FedExCup said with a laugh.
Woods hit 9 of 14 fairways and 11 of 18 greens in regulation while finishing with 29 putts for the round. However, his average proximity to the hole on his approach shots was close to 40 feet, so he did not leave himself with many good looks at birdie.
“Today was one of those days where I kept having the half-club,” said Woods, adding that he routinely was between clubs with his yardages to the hole. “With the greens being as soft as they are, I kept having to go with more club, and I just wasn’t quite hitting it close.
“I kept having to play defensive because I was taking more club, trying to shape it, trying to take spin off. Just one of those days.”
Woods finished ahead of only 16 of the half of the 119-player field that was in the morning wave, failing to take advantage of good scoring conditions. It is the 12th time he has failed to break 70 in the first round in 14 starts this year.
However, Woods wasn’t yet concerned about yet another slow start.
“It’s a very bunched board right now,” he said. “And I think it’s going to be that by the end of the week.”
NOTES: Brandt Snedeker, who won last week’s Wyndham Championship, withdrew from The Northern Trust due to back spasms.
—Field Level Media