Tiger Woods played his first round of competitive golf since the Masters Thursday to an even-par score of 71. It included three birdies, three bogeys, and to sum it up in a single word, it felt…normal.
Woods played Quail Hollow Club alongside fellow major winners and Nike-emblazoned athletes Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed. The 42-year-old hit six of 14 fairways and 13 greens in regulation. He gained incremental strokes on the field in every aspect of his game except his putter, and it all added up to place him six shots back of the lead after 18 holes.
Woods started slow but made his first birdie of the day on the par-5 7th hole, and quickly followed that with a 28-foot putt that fell for a second-straight circle on the scorecard.
If Woods showed anything in particular Thursday, it was controlled play from tee to green. He avoided severe trouble for much of the day, and was never really in danger of making a double bogey. That being said, Woods's flatstick kept him from charging up the leaderboard on the back nine.
Woods missed a great birdie try on the 14th hole when he drove into a green-side bunker and blasted out to four feet. His ensuing putt lipped out hard, and while he dissected the par-5 that followed to make his third birdie of the day, Woods three-putted from 15 feet on the 16th hole for bogey. Then, putting from 73 feet away on the fringe of the 17th green, Woods made it just three-quarters of the way to the hole on his lag attempt. He followed that by making the 17-foot par-saver.
18 holes will never suffice for a worthy sample, but Woods's putter had been the most consistent aspect of his game this season. He entered the tournament ranked 8th on Tour in strokes gained: putting. Woods, Koepka and Reed won't have long to wait before teeing it up again. They'll begin their second round early Friday at 7:45 a.m.