‘Off all day’: Tiger struggles in return to action
TIGER Woods wasn't even finished signing his scorecard to make his opening-round, even-par 71 at the Wells Fargo Championship official Thursday afternoon when his caddie, Joe LaCava, still toting Woods' bag, told a reporter, "I've got to get my butt over to the practice green.''
Woods, after speaking to reporters, was soon to follow.
His uneven putting day - 31 putts, ranked 120th in the field in strokes-gained-putting - prevented him from keeping himself on the upper portion of the leaderboard, within touching distance of the 6-under posted by first-round leader John Peterson.
The worst of Woods' woes on the greens came on the final few holes, when he missed a 4-foot birdie putt on No. 14, then a 4-foot par putt on No. 16 and a 9-foot par putt on No. 18.
"I hit the ball fine, [but] I struggled with my speed all day,'' Woods said. "It's weird. With greens this firm, they're springy and putting slow, so my feel was off all day. The greens are slow. They're springy and they're firm, and that's not a combo you would expect. I've just got to make the adjustments.''
Thus the impromptu post-round visit to the practice green.
Asked which - ball striking or putting - is easier to make a quick correction on, Woods said, "Ball-striking is always hard. Putting, I've always been a pretty good putter all of my career, so that's something I've never really worried too much about.''
The way Peterson charged to the lead late in his round, carding consecutive eagles on Nos. 7 and 8 (his 16th and 17th holes), it made it a little more difficult for Woods, who hit 6 of 14 fairways and 13 of 18 greens in regulation, to chase when he tees it up for Friday's second round.
But, with Peter Malnati, Tyrell Hatton, Johnson Wagner, Keith Mitchell and Kyle Stanley tied for second at 4-under - and 10 players, including Rory McIlroy, Keegan Bradley, Geoff Ogilvy and Jason Dufner, tied at 3-under - Woods sounded unconcerned about anyone running away with the tournament.
"The way this golf course is set up and the way it's playing right now, the guys are going to be stacked,'' Woods said. "We're all going to be close. There's going to be, I'm guessing, 15 guys or so with a chance on Sunday.''
If Woods, who finished 32nd at the Masters in his previous tournament, is to be among those 15 with a chance in the final round he'll have to have cleaned up the sloppy putting he displayed in the first round.