Woods happier with putting but struggles to one-over 71

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Florida Thu Mar 1, 2012 7:33pm EST

Tiger Woods of the U.S. waits to putt on the fourth green during first round play in the Honda Classic PGA golf tournament at the PGA National Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, March 1, 2012. REUTERS/Joe Skipper

Tiger Woods of the U.S. waits to putt on the fourth green during first round play in the Honda Classic PGA golf tournament at the PGA National Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, March 1, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Joe Skipper

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PALM BEACH GARDENS, Florida (Reuters) - Tiger Woods said he is happier with his putting despite shooting a one-over-par 71 that left him seven shots off the pace after Thursday's first round of the Honda Classic at the PGA National.

After his disappointing work on the greens at last week's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, Woods vowed to fix his problems on the green and while he said he was satisfied with his progress he was clearly still not yet his old self.

"I hit a lot of pure putts today, they rolled over a lot of edges. They just didn't quite go in," said Woods, who went to the practice green to work on his putting with coach Sean Foley after his round.

"But I wasn't disappointed with my lines. A couple of bad reads out there. The grain kind of snagged it harder or less than I expected but overall I hit the ball very good with my putts."

Woods, playing in the $1.02 million Honda Classic for the first time as a professional, had four bogeys, three birdies and took 34 putts in his round.

That left him in a tie for 68th and well off the pace set by Davis Love III, who equaled the course record with a six-under 64 that included a hole-in-one on the 195-yard par-three fifth.

Former world number one Woods drained a 19-foot putt on his opening hole for a birdie but that was the only time he made a putt over 10 feet.

"I hit good shots and unfortunately I just picked some bad lines," he said. "Also, I didn't get up-and-down either a couple of times, I blew those. So a round where I should have been probably two- or three-under par quickly turned into one-over."

The 14-times major champion has not triumphed on the PGA Tour since the 2009 BMW Championship.

"I hit the ball a lot better than I scored and I certainly putted well but I didn't get hardly anything out of the round. Hopefully tomorrow will be better," he said.

Woods, who considers PGA National a "home course" given its proximity to his home in Jupiter, Florida, received enthusiastic backing from the crowd and said he enjoyed the atmosphere.

"It was incredible," said Woods. "It's just pretty neat to be able to play in front of people like this. This is my new hometown. I live here."

(Reporting By Simon Evans; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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