Tiger Woods rebounded from a horrendous start to card an even-par 72 in the first round of the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio on Thursday.
The five-time Memorial winner is playing in the event for the first time since 2015, and had five birdies, three bogeys and one double bogey.
Woods struggled out of the gate at Jack Nicklaus’ Muirfield Village Golf Club. Beginning his round on the back nine, Woods bogeyed the par-5 11th hole and then double bogeyed the par-5 15th after hitting his drive out of bounds.
He fell to 4-over par with a bogey on the par-3 16th before beginning his comeback with a birdie on the following hole. Woods made his turn in 39 shots and got back to 2-over with a birdie on No. 2. He gave the shot back with a three-putt bogey on No. 4, then reeled off three consecutive birdies to get back to even par.
Woods finished his round with a pair of pars to shoot 3-under 33 on his closing nine, and was 4-under over his final 11 holes.
“I fought back, and I didn’t really have much starting out,” Woods told reporters. “Didn’t really feel my swing very well, and consequently I hit it both ways — mainly left. Wasn’t rotating very well.”
When Woods walked off the course, he was seven shots behind the morning leader, 196th-ranked Abraham Ancer from Mexico. Ancer carded eight birdies in his 7-under round of 65 and played the back nine in seven fewer shots than Woods.
Woods still has plenty of work to do Friday to make the cut. He failed to take advantage of favorable scoring conditions Thursday morning and will be playing in the afternoon wave in the second round, when the greens figure to be bumpier after two days of heavy play.
“Made a few tweaks, a few changes, made a couple birdies, made a couple putts and lo and behold I shot even par,” Woods said. “I know it’s a long way back, but at least I have a fighting chance.
“It was nice to grind out the round, turn it around and finish at even par. Lunch will taste a lot better that way.”
Kenny Perry (three) is the only other player to win the event more than twice. Woods is also the only player to successfully defend at the Memorial, winning three consecutive years from 1999-2001.
—Field Level Media