Tiger shoots opening-round 71 at Honda, his first Tour event since Torrey Pines
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Zach Johnson made a quadruple-bogey 8 on his second hole Thursday and still managed to shoot a 67 in the Honda Classic.
Tiger Woods had good birdie chances on his opening four holes and couldn't break par.
Johnson wound up two shots behind co-leaders William McGirt and Rory Sabbatini among the early starters at PGA National. He put two shots into the water on the 11th hole and made his 8. The 2007 Masters champion went on to make seven birdies on a cloudy morning in South Florida.
Sabbatini and McGirt were tied at 65.
Woods, playing for the first time in a month, made only two birdies in his round of 71, despite hitting eight fairways and 12 greens. His putts were the problem: he took 30 of them.
"Well, I didn't make much," he said.
He added that he had difficulty with the speed of the greens on Thursday, which he said were slower than last year. Woods has often stated his preference for faster greens.“They were as slippery as can be last year, where now they are sticky and slower,” Woods said.
Starting with the back nine first, Woods played well on his first nine holes, giving himself birdie chances on the first four holes that he couldn't convert, and making the turn at 1 under par. However, he came off the rails a little on his second nine, making a double-bogey on the 2nd and bogeys on the 5th and 8th holes before finishing with a birdie on the 9th to get back to 1-over. He sound like he wasn't unhappy with his play Thursday, just his score.
"I hit it good enough to shoot probably at least three or four lower than I did," Woods said. "I had so many looks where I just missed. I just need to read them a little bit better than I did today."
The Honda Classic is Woods' first PGA Tour start since the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines and he is still trying to emerge this season.
As the defending champion and an eight-time winner at Torrey Pines, he missed the 54-hole cut. At Dubai, where he was a two-time winner, he tied for 41st. Woods has played in only four tournaments, not including the Presidents Cup, since the Tour Championship last September. He talked Wednesday about possibly altering his pre-Masters schedule, though he has not made clear what he meant by that.
The biggest issue was converting birdie chances.
He opened with three shots pin-high, two from about 18 feet, the other from 6 feet, and never touched the hole.
"It certainly wasn't together today," he said. "Didn't get into a roll early."