Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Tiger Woods‘ concerns about his game coming into the 2019 British Open turned out to be accurate.
The three-time Open champion finds himself near the bottom of the standings after the first round thanks to a disappointing seven-over-par 78.
Per Doug Ferguson of the Associated Press, Thursday was Woods’ worst first-round score at the British Open:
Doug Ferguson @dougferguson405
Tiger at 78, highest start to British Open by 2 shots. Had a 76 at St. Andrews in ’15
It’s also Woods’ worst single-round score in a major tournament since the first round of the 2018 U.S. Open when he also had a 78.
Woods didn’t suggest coming into the weekend he was hurt, though he has played a limited schedule since winning the Masters in April. He missed the cut at the PGA Championship after taking four weeks off, had a solid ninth-place showing at the Memorial and finished in a tie for 21st at the U.S. Open.
Per CBS Sports’ Kyle Boone, Woods appeared to wince after his first tee shot.
After his round, Woods said he is sore and can’t move well, per Golf Digest‘s Brian Wacker. He added: “Just the way it is. Just the way it’s going to be.”
Thursday marked Woods’ first competitive round since the final day of the U.S. Open on June 16. He told reporters earlier this week he was still fine-tuning aspects of his game:
“It’s not quite as sharp as I’d like to have it right now. My touch around the greens is right where I need to have it. I still need to get the ball, the shape of the golf ball, a little better than I am right now, especially with the weather coming in and the winds are going to be changing. … Today it was a good range session. I need another one tomorrow. And hopefully that will be enough to be ready.”
Woods was able to salvage four straight pars to start his round, but he didn’t make it easy:
Jason Sobel @JasonSobelTAN
Tiger at the 2000 Open: No bunkers.
Tiger at the 2019 Open: Two bunkers (thru two holes.)
The first hole saw Woods save par thanks to a terrific shot out of the bunker that stopped within 15 feet of the cup:
Golf Digest @GolfDigest
Tiger with an incredible par-save at the first hole. 💯
Once Woods got to the fifth hole, his round took a turn for the worse. He finished the front nine with three bogeys and one double bogey to make the turn with a five-over-par 41.
That negative momentum continued on No. 10 as Woods hit another bogey that pushed his score to six over par.
The 43-year-old did show off his playful side after making his only birdie of the day on the 15th hole:
The Open @TheOpen
.@TigerWoods Celebrates his first birdie of the day! 👅 #TheOpen
Live coverage 👉TheOpenLiveCoverage https://t.co/Pwg9q6OWyh
Questions about Woods’ health following his early grimace may be warranted, but another logical explanation is that this was just a bad day to be a favorite.
Rory McIlroy fared worse than Tiger with a score of eight over par in the first round. Both face a steep climb Friday if they want to make the cut.
Tiger Woods when he meets Rory in the clubhouse later
Thursday was a significant step back for Woods. Even when he missed the cut at the PGA Championship in May, his 36-hole score was five over par.
All Woods can do is look ahead to the second round and try to give himself a chance to play the weekend.