Tiger Woods continues stale play with opening 72 at TPC Boston

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Tiger Woods continues stale play with opening 72 at TPC Boston

PGA Tour

Tiger Woods continues stale play with opening 72 at TPC Boston

The stale play that characterized Tiger Woods’ tournament at The Northern Trust last week resumed Friday.

Woods fired a 1-over 72 in the first round of the Dell Technologies Championship, putting him in a tie for 51st in the clubhouse and five off the lead.

Despite a limited 98-man field, the cut is still top 70 and ties – which means Woods is still inside the cutline at the moment.

But not much inspired from his opening 18 at TPC Boston.

Woods’ day began in disaster as he took a fairway wood off his opening tee (No. 10) and promptly pulled it into a lateral hazard with high native grasses. That forced Woods to take an unplayable (and a one-shot penalty) and he ended up facing a 6-footer just for bogey.

Fortunately, his switch in putter from last week’s ghastly efforts on the greens immediately paid dividends as he rolled in the putt. He then nearly jarred a 35-footer for birdie at the next before the ball hit the right edge and spun out.

Even as the flatstick continued to hold steady, Woods went further south. A badly pulled approach into a greenside bunker at the par-4 13th left an impossible short-sided shot from which Woods couldn’t even find the green. He ended up rolling in a 5-footer to just to make bogey and fall to 2 over.

Three holes later, a mini-flop attempt stayed in the rough and after his second chip ran by, Woods once again drained a 5-footer for bogey.

But he had fallen to 3 over and was hovering around last place among those on the course.

The par-4 17th proved a reprieve, as Woods expertly placed an approach 10 feet beyond the pin and got the birdie putt to drop to move back to 2 over.

He failed on the upcoming scoring stretch, though. Woods missed left on an 11-footer for birdie at the par-5 18th and then didn’t even find the green with a wedge from 91 yards at the simple par-4 first.

Those were two disappointing pars but were compounded when he hit an excellent wedge to 6 feet at the par-5 second but failed on that putt as well.

Despite those missed chances, Woods marched on. He did bury the 6-footer he had for birdie at the drivable par-4 fourth to get to 1 over and his round appeared to stabilize.

A bogey at the par-4 sixth followed when he barely cleared the water with his second shot, pitched up to 7 feet and missed. He rebounded right away by finding the par-5 seventh in two and two-putting for birdie.

He got in trouble at the par-3 eighth and got out of it by proceeding to bury a 24-footer for par. Woods parred the last for his 72 after draining a 4-footer for an up and down.

The mastery with the driver that developed at the Northern Trust continued Friday, as Woods found 10/14 fairways and was six of eight in catching the short grass with the big stick. His dismal putting from that same event also seemed to fade thanks to the switch in flatstick.

Woods had a strokes gained putting valuation around +1.5 when he finished his round, which makes sense as he holed a number of key putts and even drained a putt of almost 25 feet.

But his trusty approach play fell apart Friday, with some truly horrific misses in terms of course management. He also failed to give himself more than a couple good birdie looks all day based on approaches.

His work around the greens was also a bit sloppy, but it was tough to tell at times because it seemed part of that was the product of tough positions he put himself in after poor approaches.

It was another ho-hum round for Woods. If he wishes to reach East Lake, he better get out of this funk soon.

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