PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Tiger Woods’s opening-round 74 at the Players Championship was a sweaty, frustrating march that left him with a lot of work to do if he hopes to contend here on the weekend.
"I just didn't score," said Woods, who at two over was nine shots behind co-leaders Ian Poulter and Martin Laird. "I hit three decent shots in there and just got some of the worst lies. The best shot I hit all day was on three, and it ended up in a spot where I really couldn't play from."
The shot Woods referred to on the third hole, his 12th, was his well-struck iron on the par 3. The ball flew a touch farther than he anticipated.
"Oh, bite, bite!" Woods said as the ball whistled through the air and then bounced through the green.
"Is it over?" he asked his caddie, Joe LaCava. "F—, that was perfect."
The ball came to rest on an upslope, just outside a bunker behind the green. As he tried to hit a delicate chip shot, a fan's cell phone camera loudly clicked as Tiger made his downswing. "Come on, not during my swing!" he shouted.
Woods glared in the direction of the sound while Hunter Mahan's caddie, John Wood, asked several fans who had taken the photo. The culprit was never found but the damage was done; Woods's pitch rolled 10 feet past the hole. He missed the putt and made bogey.
"We deal with that every week out here now," Woods said. "Now the cameras are loud, people just don't put them on silent. Guys are backing off. They got Hunter a couple of times today and Rickie once, I believe."
Asked whether he thinks cell phones should be allowed at PGA Tour events, Woods said he didn't mind fans having phones on the course, but he wants them kept quiet.
"It can cost guys tournaments, because a shot on Thursday is the same as a shot on Sunday," Woods said.
But more than poorly-timed clicks from cell phones, what hurt Woods on Thursday were poor drives and iron shots. He hit just seven of 14 fairways and nine of 18 greens in regulation. In the past, Tiger's short game was able to cover up for a multitude of driver and iron sins, but as the greens quickened under the Florida sun and the wind picked up, Woods had trouble controlling his ball.
Asked after his round whether he'd missed an opportunity to post a low score, Woods said yes.
"Some of the guys were five under at the turn,” he said. “They were hammering this golf course. The wind popped up, and not a lot of guys did a lot after that. It's just one of those things where you've got to take advantage of it while you can."
Woods probably won't have the advantage of good scoring conditions again on Friday. He's scheduled to play with Mahan and Fowler at 1:49 p.m., when the afternoon winds should once again be strengthening and the greens firming up.
Tiger Woods has never missed back-to-back cuts as a pro. If he wants to keep that accomplishment intact, he'll need to hit more fairways and greens — and hope fans can figure out how to silence their cell phones.