SYDNEY – Tiger Woods shot a 4-under 68 on Thursday night in the Australian Open, leaving him three shots behind first-round leader Jarrod Lyle.
Following lip-out attempts for birdie on three of his first five holes, Woods made the turn in 1-under 34 and birdied the 10th, 11th and 13th holes.
Woods’ putt from 10 feet curled around the first hole, and his 18-footer on the fourth did the same. On the fifth, his ball did a complete horseshoe, and Woods, trying to end a two-year victory drought, looked exasperated as he tapped in for par.
Woods, preparing for the Presidents Cup next week at Royal Melbourne, is attempting to end a two-year winless streak. His last victory was at the Australian Masters in Melbourne in November 2009.
Lyle shot 65 in a morning group.
– Associated Press
• • •
Take a look at our in-depth Tiger Tracker from the first round on the par-72 Lake Wales Golf Course (6,210 meters, or 6,791 yards) in Sydney:
HOLE 18, PAR 3 (191 meters; 209 yards)
Woods closes with one final par, the finishing touch on a flawless 4-under 68.
Tiger looked much more crisp in his opening round than the last few times we’ve seen him. His short game, particularly his wedges were excellent and his putting was more consistent.
He still struggled with the driver, but was able to find the fairway when needed with his fairway metal and he took advantage during the middle of his round, making four birdies in six holes. Currently he sits three shots off the lead, set by Jarrod Lyle.
Final: 4 under
HOLE 17, PAR 5 (454 meters; 496 yards)
Still steady: Woods makes another par at the par-5 17th. He has only the par-3 18th to play and is 4 under on the round.
Through No. 17: 4 under
HOLE 16, PAR 4 (396 meters; 432 yards)
Tiger stripes an iron down the center of the fairway at the 16th.
Woods stays steady with another par at the 16th. Still no bogeys on the card.
Through No. 16: 4 under
HOLE 15, PAR 3 (174 meters; 190 yards)
Tiger flies it pin-high, but pushes it right into the greenside bunker. Without a lot of green to work with, it will be a tough up-and-down.
I take that back. Woods rolls his bunker shot to three inches and keeps his scorecard blemish-free.
Through No. 15: 4 under
HOLE 14, PAR 5 (502 meters; 549 yards)
Swinging a 3-wood, Tiger misses the fairway right at the par-5 14th.
From 209 meters, Woods hits the back of the green in two. A two-putt means another birdie, but it’s going to have to be a long one.
Woods leaves his extremely lengthy eagle putt inside five feet and will have another good look at birdie.
Woods misses his birdie putt just high, burning another edge.
Through No. 14: 4 under
HOLE 13, PAR 4 (288 meters; 312 yards)
Woods hits a fairway metal to the left of the reachable par 4 and will have an uphill bunker shot to try to make another birdie.
Wow, Tiger’s wedge play has been spectacular. Out of the bunker he hits to a foot and kicks in another birdie.
Through No. 13: 4 under
HOLE 12, PAR 4 (409 meters; 447 yards)
Tiger plays a low draw with a 2-iron and finds the center of the fairway.
From 166, Tiger hits it pin-high, 20 feet right of the flag. Apart from a few outliers, Tiger’s distance control has been great – a sign of good ballstriking, no doubt.
He leaves his birdie putt short and taps in a two-footer for par.
Through No. 12: 3 under
HOLE 11, PAR 5 (528 meters; 577 yards)
Tiger elects to hit driver at the par 5 11th and tugs it into the gallery on the left. Shockingly, it hits a fan and bounces back into the fairway. Woods gave the fan a signed glove, a la Phil Mickelson.
With a bad layup, Jason Day hits his second shot in the water, while Woods leaves his shot short and left of the green.
Tiger hits a perfectly-paced chip shot up and over the ridge in the green and his ball settles inside 4 feet. Looks like another birdie.
Woods hits it right in the heart of the hole for his third birdie of the past three holes.
Through No. 11: 3 under
HOLE 10, PAR 4 (314 meters; 343 yards)
Wielding another fairway metal, Woods finds the fairway at the short par-4 10th.
Woods’ second shot spins inside six feet and he’ll have another good look at birdie.
Jason Day makes another birdie and moves to 3 under on the day. Tiger follows suit and runs in another birdie to move to 2 under.
Through No. 10: 2 under
HOLE 9, PAR 3 (142 meters; 155 yards)
May have been a mis-club there. Woods hits it well over the green at the short par-3 ninth.
From behind the green, Tiger hits a beautiful flop shot that hits and dies within 3 feet of the hole. Should be able to escape with another par.
He indeed sinks the putt and makes the turn at 1 under par.
Through No. 9: 1 under
HOLE 8, PAR 5 (503 meters; 550 yards)
No doubt the players on the tee heard that roar – ahead on the eighth, Adam Scott just holed out from the fairway for an albatross.
Woods misses the fairway well to the left, but has some luck as the entire area is wide open. With a little over 230 to the pin, Woods flies his second shot to pin-high, but it runs off the back of the green. He’ll have a good chance to get up and down for birdie.
Tiger hits a long chip shot all the way back across the green that nestles inside five feet. He rolls in the putt for his first birdie of the day.
Through No. 8: 1 under
HOLE 7, PAR 4 (156 meters; 171 yards)
Hitting first, Day stuffs his tee shot inside 3 feet.
Woods, apparently not getting the wind cooperation he had hoped for, leaves his shot a good 30 feet right. Tiger leaves his birdie putt a bit short and taps in for par.
Day waits for an extremely low flying plane to pass and kicks in another birdie to go to 2 under.
Through No. 7: Even
HOLE 6, PAR 4 (312 meters; 341 yards)
Both Allenby and Woods layup and find the fairway (Tiger has 55 meters to the pin), while Day goes for the green and misses pin-high and left.
Woods hits a spinning wedge inside five feet and will have a very good look at birdie.
Allenby makes the group’s first birdie of the day to get back to even par. Woods never scares the hole, misreading his putt and tapping in for par.
Day also adds a birdie and moves to 1 under.
HOLE 5, PAR 4 (363 meters; 397 yards)
Back to the 3-wood and back in the fairway for Tiger.
From perfect position and 135 out, Woods changes clubs at the last second and hits a nice approach to the back pin. He’ll have a little over 20 feet for birdie.
Wow, another lip-out for Tiger, this one spins all the way around and comes back at him. He taps in for yet another par. Day lips out as well and also remains even par.
Through No. 5: Even
HOLE 4: PAR 4 (339 meters; 371 yards)
Tiger hits an iron off the fourth tee and finds the fairway. Woods’ approach shot finds the back of the green. He’ll have about 25 feet for his birdie attempt.
Tiger hits his putt with plenty of pace and lips out hard. He taps in for par and remains even on the day.
Through No. 4: Even
HOLE 3: PAR 4 (444 meters; 485 yards)
Tiger’s first driver swing of the day results in his first missed fairway of the day. Woods rips it left into the gallery and will have an interesting shot upcoming.
Woods punches out from the trees and runs his ball about 30 feet over the green.
Day, in a similar predicament, hits a massive hook that runs all the way up to the back of the green. Incredible shot!
Tiger plays a nice pitch shot and rolls his third to three feet. He hits his par putt in the center of the hole.
Through No. 3: Even
HOLE 2: PAR 4 (400 meters; 437 yards)
Hitting another 3 wood, Tiger hits another runner right down the center of the fairway, as does Jason Day.
With 141 to the pin, Woods leaves himself with a long putt for birdie, catching an unfavorable slope and trailing to the back of the green. His birdie attempt is low of the hole and Woods and Day both tap in easy pars.
Through No. 2: Even
HOLE 1: PAR 4 (365 meters; 399 yards)
Annnd we’re off. . .
Tiger’s playing the front nine first, beginning with the 365-meter 1st. (Gotta love the Aussie nuances – a meter is 3.37 inches longer than a yard for the non-math majors.)
With water on the left, Woods hits the center of the fairway with his opening tee shot, a 3-wood. It’s tough to believe Australians would be watching any other groups out at The Lakes today – Tiger is playing alongside two of the most popular Aussies, Jason Day and Robert Allenby.
Tiger hits a half wedge into the par 4 and rolls it up to 10 feet to give himself a chance at an early birdie.
Day makes a weak attempt at his first birdie putt and taps in for par. Using the Nike Method putter, Tiger just lips out on the high side of the hole and taps in for par.
Through No. 1: Even
AUSSIE OPEN PREVIEWS
• Woods a different kind of Aussie attraction: Only 250 people followed Woods during his pro-am round at the Australian Open. Perhaps he’s not the attraction he once was. STORY
• Woods: Steve Williams is not a racist: While he admitted that his former caddie’s remarks at a caddie dinner were hurtful, Woods said the two are moving forward. STORY
• Notes: Kuchar makes his another trip Down Under: After making his professional debut at the 2000 Australian Open, Matt Kuchar is back playing in Australia for only the second time. STORY