CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Tiger Woods had a different plan of attack after one of the most awful starts of his career.
Woods shot a 2-over 74 on Thursday that left him chasing the cut intead of the leaders at the Quail Hollow Championship. But instead of an exhaustive practice session pounding drives, Woods was eager to forget.
“Sometimes when I shoot a high round, I put the clubs away,” Woods said with a grin. “Or break a few.”
He might want to start with his driver. Woods hit just four of 14 fairways and struggled off the tee throughout.
He put tee shots in the water off the 17th and 18th holes and made mistakes at several other holes that cost him shots on a day when 66 players were at par or better.
Woods was tied for 88th, nine shots behind Bo Van Pelt, and needs a strong move Friday afternoon to stick around. He has not missed the cut in a regular PGA Tour event in five years.
It was his worst opening round at a regular PGA Tour event since he shot 75 at The Players Championship three years ago.
Not even Woods’ is sure what’s wrong.
“When you’re fighting a miss like this and trying to piece together a round to keep myself in a tournament, it’s pretty tough,” Woods said.
Van Pelt, seeking his first PGA Tour win, moved in front with a sparkling 65. Kenny Perry was next at 66 with Camilo Villegas another stroke behind. Phil Mickelson, playing for the first time since capturing the green jacket at Augusta, opened with 70.
Woods had come in hoping to build off his 2010 debut at the Masters, which followed an embarrassing sex scandal and a five-month hiatus. Woods opened with a 68 at Augusta National and finished tied for fourth.
Woods didn’t bring that game with him three weeks later.
He sprayed drives throughout the course. He shouted, “Fore!” when his tee shot on the 16th hole closed in on the gallery. The worst, though, was ahead. He splash-landed his iron to the par-3 17th, sailing it wide left of the green.
After the penalty, he stuck his next shot about 30 feet from the pin and settled for double bogey.
Woods wound up wet again on the 18th, settling for a bogey after finding a creek that slides along the hole’s left side.
When Woods came up short on a 10-footer to save par on No. 1, he was 4 over through 10 holes.
Woods kept his cool through his struggles – he was criticized for foul language at Augusta – and eventually tapped into the game that made him the world’s No. 1 player.
He started a rally on the second hole with a birdie, then continued it with two more on the fifth and eight holes. Once again, though, an ill-struck shot cost him as he overshot the ninth green and took a closing bogey.
Despite the troubles, Woods pointed to his improved play down the stretch as a reason to believe he won’t be packing up the clubs early.
“Hopefully, I can be the guy who puts together a good round tomorrow,” he said.
Mickelson withdrew from the pro-am Wednesday, dealing with an illness he had for a couple of days. He appeared ready to go in the opening round, rising to 4 under after a birdie on the 15th hole. However, Mickelson said that’s when the hills at Quail Hollow Club began to wear him down.
“I don’t quite have the energy yet, but I think this weekend I’ll feel great,” Mickelson said.
Van Pelt used a refurbished putter that helped him to a third-place finish two weeks ago at the Verizon Heritage at Hilton Head Island. Here, Van Pelt made seven birdies without a bogey.
“It’s just converting on some of those opportunities,” Van Pelt said.
Perry was the only one to catch Van Pelt after an eagle on the par-5 seventh. He followed that with a bogey one hole later to fall into second.
Woods, too, hopes to take advantage after letting several get away in the opening round.
“The course can be had,” Woods said.