Tiger Tracker: Round 1

Tiger Woods smiles with his new caddie, Joe LaCava, during the pro-am prior to the Frys.com Open.

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Armed with one of the most respected caddies in the game, Joe LaCava, and saying that he "has turned a corner" in his quest for a comeback, Tiger Woods is making his first professional start since missing the cut at the PGA Championship. Woods is playing in the Frys.com Open at CordeValle in San Martin, Calif.

Follow his round, shot-by-shot, as Tiger plays alongside 2010 British Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen and star amateur Patrick Cantlay.

Final thoughts

After the round, Woods called it "one of my worst putting rounds I've ever had." We couldn't have said it better ourselves. Woods missed three putts inside 6 feet and didn't take advantage of nearly enough opportunities to make up for his double bogey at the par-5 12th. Woods hit only nine greens and seven fairways.

While he appeared healthy after a long layoff, Woods' putter was a major cause for concern.

"I don't think I could put the ball any worse than I did today," Woods said.

Patrick Cantlay's 69 in the first round of the Frys.Com Open was his eighth sub-70 score in 17 PGA Tour rounds this year. Oh, and he almost broke 60 in the Travelers Championship. Cantlay's 60 there is still the lowest round on the PGA Tour in 2011.

Cantlay, the UCLA sophomore, beat his famous playing competitor, Tiger Woods, by four strokes, 69 to 73. But he hardly seemed overly impressed.

“It’s the first round of a tournament, so it doesn’t mean anything,” Cantlay said after making three birdies against one bogey at CordeValle Golf Club.

Given another chance to express joy for beating Woods, Cantlay didn’t bite. “It’s a 72-hole tournament, so we’ll see how it goes,” he said.

Thursday went well. He hit 14 greens in regulation and made birdies from 13 feet at No. 5, 33 feet at the sixth and 10 feet at nine. His lone blemish was a three-putt bogey at 13, where he missed from 2 feet, 3 inches.

“I pushed it a little bit,” Cantlay said. “It came off funny off the putter blade. It was wet and hit a bump or something. I don’t know. I guess it just happens. Hit enough of them and you won’t make every one.”

Hole 18, Par 4, 425 yards

Woods hits a perfect tee shot down the right side of the 18th fairway with a 3-wood.

From 118 yards, Woods knocks his approach to 12 feet and will have his final birdie chance of the day.

Woods puts a good stroke on it, but misses high and makes par, ending the day with a 2-over 73.

Oosthuizen in form

For a former Open Champion playing in a Fall Series event, Louis Oosthuizen hasn't gotten much attention this week. He's been a bit overshadowed by Tiger Woods and Patrick Cantlay. In case you're wondering what Oosthuizen has been up to, he finished in fifth at last week's Dunhill Links Championship, a European Tour event at St. Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns. It was Oosthuizen's first top-10 since the U.S. Open, where he finished ninth. He missed the cut in four of seven events between the U.S. Open and didn't finish better than 35th. The U.S. Open and Dunhill Links, as well a win at his first event of the year, the Africa Open, are his only top-10s this year.

Hole 17, Par 4, 358 yards

Tiger Woods spits the fairway with his tee shot, running it up the 261 yards up the short par-4. From 85 yards, Woods hits a wedge to 12 feet and will try to move to 1 over.

Woods' birdie attempt doesn't have enough pace and misses to the right. He walks away from the gettable 17th with a par.

Through No. 17: 2 over

Cantlay misses season-opener

Some media outlets criticized Cantlay earlier this week for his decision to play in the Frys.Com Open, a choice that meant Cantlay would likely miss UCLA's season opener. The Frys ends Oct. 9, one day before UCLA starts its season at the Jack Nicklaus Invitational in Dublin, Ohio. In response to that criticism, UCLA head coach Derek Freeman tweeted Thursday, "For those who care...it was my decision for Cantlay missing Ohio State. Going to class after a sweet week with tiger and crew @frysopengolf."

Hole 16, Par 3, 210 yards

Woods misses the green at the par-3 16th back and right, leaving a short-sided pitch to save par.

Tiger plays a nice pitch shot to 3 feet and his putt makes at least one trip around the edge before finally falling.

Through No. 16: 2 over

Tiger's biggest fan

photo

Andres Gonzales chips to the 12th green during a practice round for the U.S. Open Championship golf tournament in Bethesda, Md., Wednesday, June 15, 2011.

Tiger Woods may be struggling today, but his No. 1 fan, Andres Gonzales, had a solid opening round. Gonzales shot 69 Thursday, only his fifth sub-70 opening round in 19 events this season. Gonzales has only made $95,517 this season. He's best known for his tweets to Woods. Some of Gonzales' recent messages to Woods this week include, "@TigerWoods putting contest on the putting green...NOW!!!" and "@TigerWoods you have a roommate yet for the Frys?" Gonzales, a PGA Tour rookie, describes himself as "half man, half amazing" on his Twitter profile.

Hole 15, Par 5, 568 yards

Woods finds the left side of the fairway at what is statistically the easiest hole of the day, which is averaging 4.78 strokes.

Tiger hits a good second shot to the par 5, leaving a good chance to get up and down from about 30 yards.

Woods pitches his third shot inside four feet and taps in his first birdie since the first hole.

Through No. 15: 2 over

Hole 14, Par 4, 497 yards

Woods misses another fairway, this time a low fade into the right fairway bunker.

Tiger is left with the most difficult shot of the day – a 226-yard uphill approach from the fairway bunker. Woods makes pure contact and one hops his ball onto the front approach, giving himself a good chance to get up and down for par.

He does, indeed, get up and down and makes his par to remain 3 over and tied for 109th. In case you were wondering, Woods has never missed back-to-back cuts as a professional.

Through No. 14: 3 over

Cantlay's CordeValle success

Much has been made about the fact that Cantlay won a college tournament last year at CordeValle. Cantlay shot 6-under 207 to win by four shots. The event was held three weeks after last year's Frys.Com Open. "The rough was longer in the college event, for sure, Other than that, the course setup is about the same," Cantlay said. "We played most of the tees all the way back in the college event, and it was actually really, really windy when we played in the college event.”

Hole 13, Par 4, 407 yards

Woods hits the fairway at the par-4 13th, his fourth fairway of the day. After that double at the 13th, Woods sits in a tie for 110th.

Tiger hits a steep 8-iron that lands about 10 feet short of the pin and spins back, leaving him a birdie opportunity of about 20 feet.

Woods misses his birdie attempt to the left and remains at 3 over par.

Through No. 13: 3 over

Hole 12, Par 5, 605 yards

Cantlay, Woods and Oosthuizen are playing CordeValle's 12th hole (normally the third). As the rain starts to fall once again, Woods misses another fairway, this time a driver up in the left rough.

Woods hit his second shot in the hazard. This hole is no push-over par-5. At last year's Gifford Collegiate, the hole played to a 5.86 stroke average.

After taking a drop, Woods punches up the left side of the fairway. His fifth shot hits the center of the green and spins down the ridge. He'll be left with a rollercoaster bogey putt to the back pin location.

Woods nestles his bogey putt within a foot and taps in for double bogey. Meanwhile, Cantlay taps in for par and remains 3 under.

Through No. 12: 3 over

Hole 11, Par 3, 211 yards

Tiger flushes a 6-iron right at the flagstick at the par-3, dropping his ball inside 4 feet and giving himself a good look at his second birdie of the day.

Woods squanders another good birdie chance and remains at 1 over par, leaving his short birdie attempt outside right. That's three putts missed inside 6 feet. It seems like Woods went entire seasons without missing 6 footers.

Cantlay, left with his first bit of work to save par, holes a 12-footer to remain at 3 under.

Through No. 11: 1 over

Hole 10, Par 4, 425 yards

Woods finds the left fairway bunker with his first back-nine tee shot, a driver that he appeared to like, but one that just ran too far. His tee shot stepped off to 314 yards, leaving him 119 to the stick.

Woods catches it a little heavy out of the bunker and leaves his approach short of the green. He's now missed six out of 10 greens.

From a good lie, Woods pitches his ball to the ridge in the center of the green, where it checks up – not giving him the run out he was hoping for. Woods leaves himself about 12 feet for par.

Tiger sinks the putt to prevent himself from falling deeper into the black numbers.

Through No. 10: 1 over

Hole 9, Par 5, 555 yards

Woods misses another fairway with the driver at the par-5 ninth, this time up the right side.

Tiger wedges from the rough over a tree and lays up into the middle of the fairway, leaving him 132 yards to the pin. Tiger wedges his approach to 5 feet and is staring at his first good birdie chance since No. 1.

Woods leaves his birdie putt out to the right and turns in 1-over 36. Meanwhile, Cantlay rolls in another birdie and the sophomore from UCLA is 3 under and one off the lead.

Through No. 9: 1 over

Hole 8, Par 4, 478 yards

Woods pulls driver at the long, downhill par 4 and finds the left side of the fairway with his best tee ball of the day.

Tiger's 8-iron approach lands in the center of the green and catches a ridge that makes it trail away from the pin, leaving him with a lengthy birdie attempt.

From just over 45 feet, Woods' uphill birdie putt comes up 2 feet short. Tiger taps in for par, his fifth straight, and moves on.

Through No. 8: 1 over

Hole 7, Par 3, 166 yards

With an 8-iron at the par 3, Woods' approach shot lands about 9 feet short of the pin and spins back, leaving about 17 feet for birdie.

Woods hits his birdie try on a good line, but leaves it a few inches short. He taps in for another par, as do Cantlay (2 under) and Oosthuizen (1 over).

Through No. 7: 1 over

Hole 6, Par 4, 480 yards

Again with the driver, Woods cuts it into the right fairway bunker, where he draws a lie slightly above his feet. His approach will play uphill from 182 yards.

Woods catches it clean out of the bunker and finds the front of the green, but the ball rolls back to the fringe, leaving him a little over 30 feet to the front pin.

Cantlay, also playing from the front fringe, hits the flagstick and knocks in his second birdie in a row to move to 2 under.

Woods' birdie attempt takes a skip after hitting the green and comes up about 4 feet short. Woods firms it into the back of the cup for his third consecutive par.

Through No. 6: 1 over

Hole 5, Par 4, 454 yards

With a fairway metal, Woods hits a very high tee ball at the par-4 fifth. He finds the center of the fairway, but it appears he lost some distance with the somewhat popped-up drive.

Woods has 213 yards to the pin and is well back of Louis Oosthuizen, who also hit 3-wood. Louis has 164 yards remaining. Playing a 5-iron, Woods hits a low cutter that one-hops onto the back fringe, leaving about 20 feet for his birdie.

From the fringe, Woods leaves his putt just inches high and taps in for par.

Meanwhile, Cantlay rolls in a 12-footer for his first birdie of the day after four pars.

Through No. 5: 1 over

Hole 4, Par 4, 418 yards

Rain has started to fall at CordeValle and Woods loses his grip on his fourth tee shot, sending his ball well left of the fairway. With the ball well above his feet, he advances it to about 20 yards in front of the green and will attempt to get up and down to save par.

His chip shot bounces up to tap-in range and Woods makes par.

Through No. 4: 1 over

Hole 3, Par 3, 230 yards

Woods hits his tee shot past the back pin and bounces it down the hill past the green, where his ball settles down in the rough. Meanwhile Cantlay uses the slope on the back of the green to filter his tee shot down inside 15 feet. Cantlay, who has made four PGA Tour starts this year and finished in the top 25 each time, won a college event on this golf course by four shots last year.

From behind the green, Tiger chips to 3 feet. His par-saving putt horseshoes out, leaving Woods with his second straight bogey.

Through No. 3: 1 over

Hole 2, Par 4, 434 yards

Woods misses his first fairway of the day, cutting a driver into the right fairway bunker. Woods finds the front of the right greenside bunker with his approach shot and is left with a long sand shot to get up and down for par.

Tiger fats his third shot and leaves it in the same bunker, but gets it up and down.

His opening birdie is erased with a bogey at No. 2.

Through No. 2: Even

Hole 1, Par 4, 422 yards

"From Jupiter, Florida, Tiger Woods..."

We're underway.

After backing off once, Woods hits a low draw up the left-hand side with his driver and finds the fairway, as do both of his playing competitors.

Tiger's opening tee shot measures 279 yards up the left side and leaves him 133 to the pin.

Woods stuffs his 9-ron approach to 3 1/2 feet, leaving a kick-in birdie putt, which he makes.

Through No. 1: 1 under



Tiger Coverage

Caddie Joe LaCava says it was a 'no-brainer' to team up with Tiger Woods

Our Jeff Rude sat down with Tiger Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, to talk about Tiger's new endorsement deal with Rolex and his client's improved marketability.

• Tiger Woods says he has 'turned the corner' on this comeback. We will see this week, says Jeff Rude.

Tiger Woods signs his first endorsement in two years, re-joining Rolex, who worked with Woods early in his career.

Rocco Mediate says that Tiger Woods will return to the top of the golf world.

Maginnes on Tap: There are plenty of famous opinions - Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo, Johnny Miller and Greg Norman - about where Tiger is headed. But, really, they only have educated guesses.

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