For Tiger Woods, it was essentially nothing gained but nothing lost in his opening round of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
The 42-year-old fired an even-par 71 at Ridgewood in Thursday’s first round of the Northern Trust, trading two birdies and two bogeys in a performance that sees him five shots off the lead and T-36 as he reached the clubhouse.
It wasn’t a round that inspired, but it was by no means a damaging one either.
Woods was never in danger of spiraling well over par Thursday, but that didn’t mean the going was simple early on.
He hit driver into the rough on his first two holes (Nos. 9 and 10) and left himself pair of 7-foot par putts in the opening four. He managed to drain both to begin his round with four straight pars.
In fact, Woods would end up opening the day with eight straight pars before moving into red figures at the par-5 17th. That came thanks to a driver in the fairway, a fairway wood launched just in front of the green and an eagle chip deftly played to 3 feet.
He would give it back three holes later when his tee shot at the par-3 second just trickled over the green into thick rough, he chopped out 11 feet by the cup and missed the putt.
It was his first bogey of the day and pushed him back to even par.
Woods immediately rebounded, nearly reaching the par-5 third in two. After a so-so pitch, he drained a 12-footer for a bounceback birdie to return to 1 under.
Two holes later, he missed the fairway, the green and a 9-footer for par. He had returned to even par. He would par out from there.
It was generally just a ho-hum day from Woods. His work off the tee was decent as he found nine of 14 fairways – going four for eight on the driver. His approach play was probably the day’s disappointment (he hit 11 of 18 greens) as he had a few poor ones and most of the rest were between mediocre and decent. Still, there was nothing too troubling there.
His work on and around the greens was a bit up and down and nothing special.
It was one of those days where not much was happening, but there wasn’t much harm in that. He’s nowhere near shot himself out of this tournament, and it’s the sort of nonchalant Thursday he used to catapult from on the way to victories in his prime.
We’ll see what the final three days bring.
Woods won’t win if he plays the final 54 holes like the first 18, but who’s to say he won’t step up in the final three rounds like he did at the PGA Championship?