Woods stumbles to opening 74 at Firestone

Tiger Woods wipes away sweat from his forehead on the 17th green during the first round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

AKRON, Ohio – Highlights? Of course there were highlights. There always is with Tiger Woods.

Actually, make that highlight – as in the singular form.

“I kept my patience out there,” Woods said.

And with that, Woods was done listing all the positive things on a miserable day of golf at a place that has never treated him so rudely.

Making bogeys on his first two holes and sitting 3 over through five, Woods not only didn’t turn around his first round at the WGC–Bridgestone Invitational; he fell even further off the pace. His 4 over 74 leaves him tied for 74th, which might not sound so bad on a regular PGA Tour week. The only thing is, there are only 81 players in the field, so obviously this was not what Woods is used to at Firestone CC.

He has, after all, won seven times in 11 appearances at the Bridgestone Invitational, and on those occasions when he hasn’t topped the leaderboard, he’s finished no worse than fourth.

The 74 was his worst–ever score in this tournament by two strokes, but you have to go back to his second round in 2003 to find that 72. Since that day, Woods has played 22 rounds at Firestone and gone 49 under par.

Woods did, however, continue a trend that has dogged him all season. He fell woefully behind, in this case a whopping 10 behind Bubba Watson.

While that sounds hard to believe, consider that Woods has spent almost every competitive day this year staring at a big deficit. In fact, when he opened his season with a 68 at Augusta to trail by two, then shot 70 to still sit two back, little did we know that into August that would be the closest he’d be to a lead.

Since those April days in Augusta, Woods has never been closer than three to the leader – and that was the final round of the U.S. Open.

His average deficit after the first round since the Masters has been 6.57.

Staggering numbers, but so is this: 32.

That’s how many putts he needed to shoot 74 and when you toss in the number five – as in fairways hit – well, it’s no surprise that he had such a poor effort.

“Just didn’t play well,” Woods said. “I was struggling on the greens and didn’t hit any good iron shots. Probably hit about two good iron shots all day. That’s definitely not enough.”

There was very little else to say, so when yet again he was reminded of his incredible record here, Woods shook his head.

“Just because I like the golf course doesn’t mean I’m going to play well on it.”

We noticed.

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