Tiger Woods has his ups and downs at Genesis Open

Tiger Woods Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Tiger Woods has his ups and downs at Genesis Open

PGA Tour

Tiger Woods has his ups and downs at Genesis Open

Tiger Woods offered a continuation from Torrey Pines on Thursday, struggling with his game but ultimately putting up a respectable score.

Woods fired a 1-over 72 in the opening round of the Genesis Open, putting himself just five off the lead amongst the morning wave. It was an eclectic day for Woods at Riviera, as his round included five birdies, four bogeys and a double bogey.

Once again, the ball-striking was poor on a number of shots and Woods had to rely on his short game to save him. But, as was the case at the Farmers Insurance Open, it did just that.

Woods needed just 25 putts and made a number of key saves to salvage a 72 despite finding just seven greens in regulation. He hit eight of 14 fairways, but his misses off the tee tended to be big and put him in huge trouble.

It was a battle for sure, and one that Woods at least survived.

And the round was entertaining from the start.

The 42-year-old began his day laying up at the drivable par-4 10th, but that proved a prudent approach when he wedged to 9 feet and drizzled in the quick putt for an opening birdie.

But just as fast, matters turned awry.

Woods went wild right with driver off the par-5 11th tee, and his ball ended up lost (either it stayed up in a tree or simply wasn’t found). He was forced to re-tee and finished the hole by missing a 9-footer for bogey.

That haunting double bogey (on a par 5, no less) was immediately followed by another wild driver right at No. 12 that led to a bogey and a quick drop to 2 over. He got that stroke right back at the 13th by draining a 14-footer for birdie, but another bogey at 15 put him back in his 2-over hole.

In the middle of the round, it appeared Woods might salvage a really good score. After an important sand save – that ended by him draining a 6-footer for par – at the 16th, Woods hit a beautiful wedge to 5 feet at the par-5 17th and drained the slick birdie putt. A par save at the 18th allowed him to turn in 1-over 37.

He then took advantage of the simple par-5 first. Woods found the green in two and, after a dismal first putt from 47 feet, he drained an eight-foot comebacker for birdie.

Woods had gotten back to even par and almost reached red figures for the first time since the opening hole when he nearly chipped in for birdie at the third. But that hole would mark the first of five straight where he would miss the green, and that took its toll.

The saves could only keep up for so long, and Woods made bogey at No. 5 and another at the seventh when his nine-footer cruelly horseshoed out.

Now 2 over, Woods was hoping for a late surge and got it when he stuffed a wedge to 4 feet at No. 8 and had the putt drop for a birdie.

His adventure didn’t end there. Woods went wide right with a driver again, hitting one so far offline at No. 9 it ended up in a bunker at the 10th. He hit a beauty from there, though, from 165 yards to the back fringe and ended up with a closing par.

Just as he did at Torrey Pines, this was a gritty round from Woods. The 14-time major champion looked really off on a number of shots.

While he seemed to tame his driver in the middle of the round, his misses early were extremely wide right and he had a huge foul ball at the last, too. (Basically all of his driver misses were right.) He even had an iron off the tee that went well offline (left, at the par-4 fifth). So the driver was very hit or miss, but aside from one bad iron he was solid off the tee when he didn’t have the big stick in hand.

His approach play was mediocre at best, although his full wedge play seemed to be real crisp.

His work around the greens wasn’t to the magical level he produced at times at Torrey, but it was certainly impressive stuff. And he seemed to drain almost every important putt Thursday, so his work on the greens was something to be commended (he’ll end the day somewhere around +1.75 in strokes gained: putting).

It was a tough course with tough conditions, so a 72 with some of Woods’ mishits is pretty solid.

Once again, the Woods grinder of old is back. And he very well may make the cut, but if he wants to contend at Riviera, he’ll need his game to be a lot sharper in the coming days.


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