Tiger Tracker: Tiger fires 70, 3 shots back

Tiger Woods shares a laugh with Steve Stricker during the first round of the World Challenge in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Tiger Woods shares a laugh with Steve Stricker during the first round of the World Challenge in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

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Hilton Head, SC - Harbour Town Golf Links

2:49:01 AM ET. 04/21/2014




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1Matt Kuchar-7F-11
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Tiger Woods points to his 2011 victory at the World Challenge as what led him to three PGA Tour victories in 2012. He started his defense of the title today in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Woods teed off with longtime pal Steve Stricker and finished with a 2-under 70, which has him three shots back of leader Nick Watney. Woods made three birdies and just one bogey, but struggled a little bit with his distance control.

"I didn't hit it very good today," Woods said. "And it was nice to scrape out a good score."

Keegan Bradley, Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell are all at 3 under.

The 18-player field also includes Ryder Cup hero Ian Poulter, fan favorite Rickie Fowler, a guy looking to find his game in Hunter Mahan and Masters winner Bubba Watson.

See how it all happened as we tracked Tiger shot-by-shot during his first round in three weeks.

• • •

Hole No. 18, Par 4, 444 yards

One more hole to go for Tiger. A birdie would move him into a share of the lead, although two of the co-leaders, Webb Simpson and Nick Watney, are still out on the course.

Off the tee: It's 5-wood for Tiger, who finds the fairway.

Approach shot: Tiger has about 190 yards left and after a little discussion, chooses 7-iron and sticks it about 20 feet past the hole.

On the green: Tiger gives this one a good roll. It looks like it has a chance early, but break right and runs by the hole. Tiger makes the 4 footer for par to wrap up a 2-under 70.

TIGER ON THE DAY: 2 under

Elsewhere on the course: Bubba Watson three-putts the 17th green to fall back to 1 under.

• • •

Hole No. 17, Par 3, 166 yards

Tiger has strung together a couple of big, momentum-saving par saves. He's one of the lead.

Off the tee: Tiger opts for 9-iron and sticks it to about 20 feet or so.

On the green: Tiger has a slight left-to-right putt that is going slightly uphill. Tiger judges the speed perfectly, but leaves it left. He taps in for par.

TIGER ON THE DAY: 2 under

Elsewhere on the course: Webb Simpson and Nick Watney have each recently missed birdie putts to take the outright lead. They're both still at 3 under, along with Keegan Bradley and Graeme McDowell, who are both in the clubhouse.

• • •

Hole No. 16, Par 5, 567 yards

That par save at No. 15 was more impressive than any of the three birdies that Tiger has on Thursday. He remains one shot behind Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson as he gets to his final par 5 of the day.

Off the tee: Tiger finds the left side of the fairway, just shy of a pair of fairway bunkers. He'll have a shot at the green in two.

Second shot: Tiger's second shot goes left and hits a tree. The ball landed int he rough under the tree and Tiger looks to have a difficult third shot coming up.

Third shot: The tree branches are definitely in play and Tiger leaves this shot short of the green and in the rough. It would have been difficult to land the ball on the green and be able to hold it, but still, not a good shot from Tiger.

Around the green: Tiger's chip leaves him about a 15 footer for par.

On the green: Tiger makes another big par save and stays one back of the lead.

TIGER ON THE DAY: 2 under

Elsewhere on the course: Graeme McDowell makes the first birdie of the day at the par-3 17th and then birdies No. 18 to finish with a 69 and a share of the lead at 3 under. Also, Nick Watney just sank a 15 footer on No. 14 to take a share of the lead at 3 under.

• • •

Hole No. 15, Par 3, 189 yards

The one thing that Tiger isn't doing on Thursday is make big mistakes, and that's helping him stay in striking distance.

Off the tee: Well, he puts a poor swing on this one, sending it over the green (the front is lined with water and rocks) and in the rough. He'll have a very tough chip down the green coming up.

Around the green: Considering his position on the downhill slope, Tiger plays a nice shot to about 15 feet behind the hole.

On the green: And he drains it. Huge save. The ball disappeared on its last revolution. Impressive save there.

TIGER ON THE DAY: 2 under

Elsewhere on the course: Keegan Bradley bogeys the 18th hole to finish with a 3-under 69 and in a tie for the lead with Webb Simpson.

• • •

Hole No. 14, Par 4, 455 yards

That's three birdies on the four par-5s so far for Tiger (he has one to go). He is now two shots back of Keegan Bradley.

Off the tee: From an elevated tee and 3-wood in hand, Tiger loves it immediately and the ball finds the middle of the fairway.

Approach shot: Tiger finds the green, but it sticks and doesn't bound up the slope in the green, leaving himself a 30-footer up and over the slope.

On the green: Very nice birdie putt, leaving it about 18 inches short and he taps in for a solid par.

TIGER ON THE DAY: 2 under

• • •

Hole No. 13, Par 5, 568 yards

Another birdie flirtation at the 12th hole, but Tiger can't seem to get many mid-length putts to drop. Still solid today, three shots back of leader Keegan Bradley.

Off the tee: Tiger hits the fairway here and will be able to get after the green in two.

Second shot: Tiger will have another eagle putt, putting it just short of the green, but will still be able to putt for eagle.

On the green: Tiger's eagle attempt from about 35 feet has a double-break that he doesn't see and it skirts about 4 feet left of the hole. He buries that for another birdie.

TIGER ON THE DAY: 2 under

Elsewhere on the green: Rickie Fowler has moved to 1 under after being 4 over thru his first three holes. Bubba Watson, who was 2 over at one point, is also at 1 under.

• • •

Hole No. 12, Par 3, 186 yards

A second birdie at a par 5 for Tiger and he is back into red figures, two shots back of leader Keegan Bradley.

Off the tee: Tiger urges his ball to go a bit here and it does, landing about 20 feet behind the hole and it trickles back to about 18 feet for birdie.

On the green: Facing a big right-to-left break, Tiger puts perfect pace on it, but cuts just under the hole and he picks up another par. Nice stroke there though.

TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 under

Elsewhere on the course: Jason Day birdies No. 13 to get to 3 under and tie Bradley for the lead. Only six of the 18 players are under par.

• • •

Hole No. 11, Par 5, 517 yards

Tiger has left birdie chances short four times on Thursday, with the last one the toughest one considering the two beautiful shots he hit to get to the green. He is three shots back of leader Keegan Bradley.

Off the tee: Tiger splits the fairway with his drive, giving himself about 235 yards into the green.

Second shot: Tiger takes 5-wood and hits the green, leaving himself about 40 feet for eagle.

On the green: A great putt for eagle comes to rest about 5 inches to the right of the cup and he taps in for his second birdie of the day.

TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 under

Elsewhere on the course: Rickie Fowler has battled back from being 4 over to get back to even thru 11 holes. Nick Watney joins Tiger Woods at 1 under with his first birdie of the day at No. 9.

• • •

Hole No. 10, Par 4, 359 yards

Tiger makes the turn no better than he started the day, showing flashes with this play on the first three holes, but simply scrambling to over his last six holes to save par.

Off the tee: Tiger decides to lay back a bit, hitting the left side of the fairway and leaving himself about 125 yards into the back-right pin location.

Approach shot: Tiger hits a great knockdown second shot, landing it pin-high and spinning it back to about 8 feet under the hole.

On the green: Tiger doesn't hit his putt firm enough, leaving it short and settling for a par. Missed opportunity there.

TIGER ON THE DAY: Even

Elsewhere on the course: Hunter Mahan picks up a double-bogey at No. 10 and falls back to even for the tournament. There are only four players in red figures currently (Keegan Bradley at 3 under; Graeme McDowell, Jason Day and Webb Simpson at 2 under).

• • •

Hole No. 9, Par 4, 422 yards

That was Tiger's first stumble of the day, and is now three shots behind Keegan Bradley.

Off the tee: Tiger finds the first cut of rough on the left with a fairway wood, but should have a nice angle into the green.

Approach shot: Tiger likes his ball flight, posing a bit, but the ball hits the green and spins back off to the fringe. Looking at 25 feet for birdie.

Around the green: Tiger putts from just off the green and leaves it about 6 inches short and settles for a par.

TIGER ON THE DAY: Even

Elsewhere on the course: Brandt Snedeker picks up double-bogey at No. 13 to fall to 1 over. He had an eagle at No. 11, but followed with a bogey and double.

• • •

Hole No. 8, Par 3, 228 yards

A lengthy tee shot is upcoming for Tiger, with the green angled with the short side on the left.

Off the tee: Tiger misses the green here, sending it to the right and lands near a sprinkler.

Around the green: Tiger takes a drop from that sprinkler and hits a beautiful flop to about 4 feet.

On the green: Tiger misses the short putt and picks up his first bogey of the day.

TIGER ON THE DAY: Even

Elsewhere on the course: With an eagle at the par-5 11th hole, Brandt Snedeker moved to 2 under, tied with Keegan Bradley, one shot behind leader Hunter Mahan. But Snedeker picked up a bogey at the par-3 12th hole to fall back to 1 under, while Bradley birdied No. 11 to get to 3 under.

• • •

Hole No. 7, Par 4, 446 yards

After a nice start to his round, Tiger has scrambled his last three holes, but is managing to save par on a day where the scoring isn't low.

Off the tee: Tiger hits a fade on No. 7 and it goes well right, but clears a bunker and actually gives him a good angle into the green. Still in the rough though.

Approach shot: Tiger finds the green, but leaves himself a mammoth putt for a birdie. A two-putt will be an accomplishment.

On the green: And a two-putt it is, with the birdie attempt coming up 2 feet short. That's five consecutive pars for Tiger.

TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 under

• • •

Hole No. 6, Par 4, 422 yards

Tiger got away with a poor hole there, using his first one-putt of the day to save par. But, he doesn't take advantage of a par 5, which has been a problem in 2012.

Off the tee: Another fairway wood here for Tiger, and while he finds the fairway, he doesn't get all of it. But, should be no problem considering the length of the hole.

Approach shot: A green-in-regulation here, giving himself about 25 feet for birdie.

On the green: Another two-putt par for Tiger here, leaving his birdie attempt a couple feet short. Solid round thus far.

TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 under

Elsewhere on the course: Hunter Mahan is heating up, picking up a birdie at No. 6 to move into the outright lead at 3 under.

• • •

Hole No. 5, Par 5, 531 yards

Nice recovery there to stay within a shot of the lead early on at the World Challenge. Tiger moves to the second of five par-5s, this one likely needing three shots to get there. Tiger hasn't been as consistent on par-5s this season, but started nicely with a two-putt birdie on No. 2.

Off the tee: Tiger won't be able to attack in two after his drive hooks a bit left and settles in some rough.

Second shot: A mishit here, as Tiger pushes his ball to the right and now is blocked for his third shot, coming to rest behind a tree. Now scrambling to just make par.

Third shot: As Tiger always seems to do, the World No. 3 hits a shot right through the tree, catches a couple of branches and is short of the green. Should be an easy up-and-down.

Around the green: Tiger plays a sub-par chip to about 12 feet under the hole and up a slope in the green. It nearly ran back to him.

On the green: Tiger manages to knock in the putt and save par. Big save there.

TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 under

Elsewhere on the course: Hunter Mahan has joined Keegan Bradley at 2 under after his birdie at the par-5 5th hole. Jason Day falls back to 1 under with a bogey at No. 6. Ian Poulter, arguably the hottest player on the planet right now, birdies the tough 2nd hole to get to 1 under. Masters champion Bubba Watson opens bogey-bogey and is at 2 over thru three holes.

• • •

Hole No. 4, Par 4, 456 yards

Tiger could easily be 3 under right now, with two birdie putts that have touched the edge. Now he moves to a big, dogleg right par 4.

Off the tee: Another fairway wood here, simply playing for position to get after the green. Of course, when you can hit your fairway wood 275-plus yards, who needs a driver?

Approach shot: Tiger's first growl of the day, leaving his second shot well short of the hole, at least 25 to 30 yards short.

Around the green: Tiger hits a beautiful pitch shot that gives him a tap-in par. His short game does seem to be improving, much like he said in his Tuesday presser.

TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 under

Elsewhere on the course: All 18 players have teed off and Tiger is in a 3-way tie for second at 1 under. Others at 1 under: Webb Simpson and Bo Van Pelt. They are all one shot behind Jason Day (thru 5 holes) and Keegan Bradley (thru 6).

• • •

Hole No. 3, Par 3, 198 yards

Nice birdie there from Tiger, as his gutsy second shot paid off with an easy two-putt birdie. Another challenge at the 3rd with a long tee ball.

Off the tee: Tiger is safely on the green, pin-high and to the left. Solid shot and another look at birdie.

On the green: Tiger has about 25 feet for birdie and he leaves it on the lip. That his second birdie attempt that he thought was going to fall. Solid par.

TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 under

Elsewhere on the course: Rickie Fowler, playing right in front of Tiger's group, has carded two 6s in a row, the latter being a triple-bogey at the par-3 3rd hole. He's 4 over thru 3 holes.

• • •

Hole No. 2, Par 5, 531 yards

Interesting side note on the par-5 2nd hole, of the 10 players to complete the hole so far today, there has been one birdie (Brandt Snedeker), six pars, two bogeys (Dustin Johnson, Jason Dufner) and a double-bogey (Matt Kuchar).

Off the tee: A par 5, so Tiger pulls driver and blisters it. Second nice tee ball to open his round. Will he get after this island green? He is pretty confident in his longer irons . . .

Second shot: Something you don't see too often, but Tiger takes fairway wood for his second shot and he hits the green. Very gutsy shot. Very risk-reward shot.

On the green: A two-putt birdie for Tiger, as he moves into red figures early. Only the second birdie of the day at the par-5 2nd hole.

TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 under

Elsewhere on the course: A less-than-ideal start for bomber Dustin Johnson, opening his round bogey-bogey-bogey to sit at 3 over with Jason Dufner. Rickie Fowler is another victim of the 2nd hole, picking up bogey to fall to 1 over. Keegan Bradley is alone in the lead at 2 under after back-to-back birdies at Nos. 4 and 5.

• • •

Hole No. 1, Par 4, 342 yards

Tiger starts his final tournament of the season playing with one of his best friends on Tour. Remember, he and Stricker spent a lot of time together at the Ryder Cup, although they had dismal results to show for it.

Off the tee: Tiger smashes a fairway wood down the middle of the fairway. Solid start at the short par-4.

Rest of the hole: After his nearly 275-yard tee ball - yes, with a fairway wood - Tiger can only muster a par at the opener despite a second shot that gets to about 6 feet from the cup. Playing competitor Steve Stricker opens with a bogey.

TIGER ON THE DAY: Even

Elsewhere on the course: Hunter Mahan has moved to 1 under behind a birdie at No. 1. Only three players are under par (of course, there are only 12 players on the course currently).

• • •

Update #3: 1:16 p.m. EDT

With Tiger and Stricker a couple minutes away from teeing off, a leaderboard update is in order.

Only two players are in red, with Brandt Snedeker (thru 4 holes) and Jason Day (thru 1) at 1 under. Three players are over par: Matt Kuchar (1 over thru 4), Jason Dufner (2 over thru 3) and Dustin Johnson (2 over thru 2).

• • •

Update #2: 1:12 p.m. EDT

Sherwood Country Club plays at par-72 and at 7,027 yards and was designed by Jack Nicklaus.

Both par-5s on the front side are 531 yards, the first (No. 2) that features an island green and the second (No. 5) that is likely to be a three-shot hole for most.

The back-nine has three par-5s, with No. 11 reachable in two, No. 13 sitting at 568 yards that takes a gutsy second shot to try and reach and No. 16 featuring a cross-bunker at 330 yards, leaving a long second shot into the green.

• • •

Update #1: 12:50 p.m. EDT

Players are being met by cloudy skies today at Sherwood Country Club, and there is a 30 percent chance of showers starting around 6 p.m. EDT.

Only two players are currently on the course right now, with Matt Kuchar picking up a birdie on No. 1, with Webb Simpson starting with a par. Both were players in Wednesday's big announcement on anchoring, with Kuchar finding out that his stroke is legal and that Simpson would be in violation starting on Jan. 1, 2016.

• • •

TEE TIMES, PAIRINGS: With the Tiger Woods World Challenge slated to begin on Thursday morning in southern California, here is a look at the first round tee times and pairings. Story.

RELIEVED: Matt Kuchar didn't know if his unique stroke would be banned or not, but was all smiles on Wednesday after the R&A and USGA said his putting technique is fine moving forward. Story.

WEIGHING IN: As victories go, Tiger Woods was more than happy to talk about the one that served as a bridge from a forgettable part of his career to something he’s more accustomed to. Story.

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