Tiger Woods made his return to the PGA Tour on Thursday, and there certainly was a different feel while he shot a 1-under-par 71 at the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio.
No fans were on the course at Woods’ first tournament since mid-February, so there were fewer obstacles for Woods to dodge.
“It’s certainly different around here with some of the walks,” Woods said after the round. “But you get from point A to point B very directly. I hadn’t felt this ever here. Usually I’m meandering roundabout, so it was a good feeling.”
Woods’ round was a bit spotty -- leaving him with a mix of good and bad feelings.
He knocked in four birdies, including one on 18 to end his round. But Woods also had three bogeys, which sabotaged his chances of nearing the lead. He is tied for 18th and trails leader Tony Finau by five shots.
“I was very pleased the way I drove it, (and) my feel for my irons,” said Woods, who averaged 305 yards on his drives. “I just didn’t quite hit the putts hard enough. Most of my putts were dying, didn’t quite have enough oomph to it.”
Woods said he felt rusty while terming the effort as a good start. He said his training has him ready for the event, and he also acknowledged that the butterflies were churning prior to the round.
“I was certainly feeling the edginess and nervousness and anxiousness of playing, and getting out there and feeling something I hadn’t felt in a while,” said Woods, “and it felt good.”
Woods recorded two birdies over his first three holes. Later, he had bogeys on Nos. 6 and 8 to fall back to even par.
He birdied 15 and immediately bogeyed 16 to again fall to even before draining the 14-foot birdie putt on 18, while dealing with the windy environment on the course that also was home to last week’s Workday Charity Open.
“I would like to have started with easier conditions,” Woods said. “Wind pumping and swirling all over the place, and it was different. It was hot, the ball was running, it’s getting down there. When I watched last week it wasn’t doing that, and certainly the practice round it wasn’t doing that. But the golf course has changed. It’s gotten faster, and it’s only going to continue to get faster.”
Of course, the biggest difference was that there was no gallery following Woods’ every move on the 7,456-yard course.
“There were still a lot of moving carts and a lot of media that were moving around, but the energy wasn’t the same without the fans,” Woods said. “That certainly was noticeable, mostly different. But there were still a lot of moving parts with camera crews.”
Woods said the lack of fans had no impact on his performance. He said he was still able to possess good energy without people making commotion.
“No, no. I definitely didn’t have any issue with energy and not having the fans’ reactions out there,” he said.
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