PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Describing it as his best ballstriking round in his admittedly brief comeback, Tiger Woods overcame a double bogey to shoot even-par 70 during the first round of the Honda Classic at PGA National.
Woods overcame blustery, tricky conditions Thursday to match his best opening round in four appearances at the South Florida course that is near his home.
“I’m very pleased,” Woods said. “Today was not easy. It’s going to get more difficult because these greens are not the best. It was tough all around today. The wind was playing really hard, the rough’s up and it’s really tough to make putts out there.”
Woods, 42, is playing his fourth tournament and third in 2018 since returning from spinal fusion surgery 10 months ago. Although he was happy with the effort, Woods did not make things easy on himself.
He hit just 7 of 14 fairways — although some were not off by much — and 10 of 18 greens in regulation. Woods needed only 25 putts, scrambling for par six times.
Woods had one bad hole — the par-5 third — where his driver off the tee found a fairway bunker. From there, he laid up to 150 yards, knocked a 6-iron in a greenside bunker, played onto the fringe, chipped 4 feet by the hole and missed his bogey putt.
His only other above-par score came at the par-4 16th, where he hit a perfect 2-iron into the fairway, then pulled a 7-iron into a greenside bunker and failed to get up and down.
But on a course with lots of water and crosswinds, Woods was otherwise solid.
“I had pretty good control of the golf ball all day,” Woods said. “I felt very comfortable with my stroke, especially in this wind. It was tough putting out there.
“One bad hole. That’s the way it goes. … Relatively easy up-and-downs and gave myself a couple looks and I made two putts. But they were nice putts.”
Woods is playing consecutive weeks on the PGA Tour for the first time since 2015. Last week, he missed the cut after a second-round 76 at the Genesis Open. Last month, he made the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open and then tied for 23rd.
The last time Woods played at the Honda Classic was in 2014, when he withdrew after 13 holes of the final round citing back pain. A few weeks later, he had the first of four back surgeries. Since then, Woods has played in just 22 worldwide events and is now ranked 544th in the world.