Tiger Woods live blog: Woods struggles on the back nine, finishes with even-par 71
Tiger Woods gave it a good run last weekend at Riviera, charging up the leader board late on Saturday night and into Sunday morning. But the marathon days clearly got to him, as Woods faded in the final round and ultimately finished in a tie for 15th, still impressive considering he made the cut by just one shot. Afterwards, and exasperated Woods said multiple times that he couldn't wait to take all of Monday off and not touch his clubs.
On Thursday, we'll see if the much-needed day of rest pays off for the 14-time major winner, as he makes his debut in the WGC-Mexico. Well, technically he's won this event seven times, but none of those came in Mexico. This is his first start South of the Border, and it'll be fascinating to see how he maneuvers the quirky Club de Golf Chapultepec and it's tight, tree-lined fairways. Not to mention the altitude change, which caused Woods to make a key equipment tweak that could help him off the tee this week. There were also reports that he was hitting wedge 180 yards in practice rounds, so we'll see how he's able to adjust in tournament play.
Before Woods teed off, he already made some news, announcing he will skip next week's Honda Classic on Twitter. He will return to Bay Hill, where he's won eight times. Woods being eligible to play in the WGC-Mexico certainly played a factor in the decision, as he was never going to play five straight weeks with the Honda, Arnold Palmer Invitational and Players all in a row. Unfortunately, the Honda at Jack Nickalus' PGA National was the odd man out.
Woods goes off at 2:03 p.m. ET on Thursday alongside Bryson DeChambeau and Mexico's own Abraham Ancer. Follow along right here for all the important updates from his opening round.
6:46: Woods hit the fairway at 18, then hit an 8-iron uphill, into the wind and directly into the sun. He never saw it, but it ended up in a decent spot, right of the hole and 16 feet away. He missed the birdie putt and tapped in for an even par 71. Didn't seem like it was going to be a good round from the start, but the three-birdie stretch on the front side looked to have flipped the energy. But Woods played his final 12 holes in one over.
He'll look to go low tomorrow and give himself a chance on the weekend when he tees off at 12:51 p.m. ET. Check back at golfdigest.com for our Round 2 live blog.
6:35: To be blunt, Tiger hit a woeful chip at the 17th, leaving him with a 12-footer for par, which he made. Routine 3.
6:30: Woods found another fairway at 16, but his approach shot leaked to the right of the green and he got up and down for par. At the par-3 17th, his tee shot leaked right again, and he'll have to get up and down a second straight time to stay at even par.
6:12: Back on the board! Tiger's second went through the green, and then his chip back to the hole rolled about six feet past. But he was able to hole the comeback birdie putt and get back to level par with three holes remaining. Could use one or two more heading into Friday.
5:58: Woods hits driver at the 15th, and gave it the one-arm, "oh-no" follow through. Nothing wrong with the shot though, as it flew about 325 and landed in the middle of the fairway. Obviously, he wasn't pleased with the strike, but the altitude certainly helped with the distance.
5:52: Tiger finds the fairway at No. 14, leaving himself with a short iron in, but he doesn't take advantage. After hitting his approach to 25 feet he two-putts for another par to remain at one over.
5:32: Woods tee shot at the par-3 13th came to rest about 37 feet from the cup, leaving him with another long birdie putt. He continues to leave the pin in on these long ones, though he didn't for the 30-footer he made on the front nine. He didn't make this one, and actually came up short by four feet. His tricky par effort snapped left of the hole and led to a three-putt bogey, dropping him to one over.
5:21: Great lag putt from Tiger, and he'll settle for par. Pars aren't going to cut it though, as McIlroy just buried a long birdie putt to get to eight under.
5:18: Woods overspins a wedge and it rolls back to almost 40 feet away from the hole. Not what he was looking for, something he made quite apparent by screaming "NOOOOO," as it spun back.
5:16: A couple of guys have driven the downhill, 415-yard par-4 12th on Thursday, but Woods opted to lay back with an iron. He'll have 107 left to the hole.
5:09: Tiger misses the birdie putt and settles for par on a birdie hole. All the energy from that birdie run on the front nine has left the building.
5:02: Woods actually went for the green and came up short in a left greenside bunker. From there he blasted one out to about 15 feet. Not his best.
5:00: Tiger driver off the 11th tee and finds the left rough. With 270 left to the green, he'll most likely layup to a distance he likes.
4:53: Two-putt par for Woods at the 10th. Good chance to get back into red figures coming up at the par-5 11th. He needs a few birdies on the back side to keep pace with the guys at the top of this leaderboard:
T-1 - Rory McIlroy -7
Dustin Johnson -7
T-3 - Tyrrell Hatton -4
George Coetzee -4
HaoTong Li -4
Matt Kuchar -4
Sergio Garcia -4
Charles Howell III -4
4:46: Woods didn't love his approach at 10, but he's pin high, and will have 18 feet left for birdie.
4:43: Woods continues to pure iron after iron at Club de Golf Chapultepec, club-twirling after each tee shot, including his last at the 10th. With the tight, tree-lined fairways, this course would seem like a house of horrors for a guy who struggles with the driver, a club he has seen improvement with this year. But thanks to the altitude change, Tiger doesn't need driver, and can play to his strengths and plod his way around the course with long irons. His only bad tee shot of the day came at No. 1, and that was with the 3-wood.
4:36: Tiger had to be careful with another quick downhill putt, and it didn't break enough, missing left of the hole. Disappointing bogey, and Woods turns in even-par 35.
4:29: Woods hits a nice little knockdown wedge that comes to a dead stop about six feet from the hole. Considering that double bogey start, turning in under par would be pretty strong.
4:23: Iron off the tee for Tiger at No. 9, and he rips it right down the middle.
4:20: Tiger got a bit aggressive with his chip, rolling it past the hole about four feet. He missed the the slick, downhill comeback putt for par to drop back to even par on his round.
4:11: So close to being a really great shot from Woods at the eighth. After a lengthy discussion with Joe LaCava, they settled on 7-iron from 224 yards, as 6-iron would have been too much with the way Woods needed to turn it over around the trees. Looks like 6-iron may have been the better option, as the 7 came up just short of the green. Then again, the 6 could have gone over, which would not have been good. Shorter is better with the back hole location, and it should give Tiger the best chance at par.
4:02: Tiger hits a bullet at the par-4 eighth but it refused to cut, instead holding it's line and rolling through the fairway. He'll also have to navigate his way around some trees that could be between him and the green.
3:57: Good stroke from Woods at No. 7, but his putt just slides by on the left side of the hole. Two-putt par to remain at one under.
3:51: Tiger safely plays his tee shot to the right part of green at the long par-3 seventh. Will have a tough, long putt for birdie from just out side of 30 feet, but he did just make one from that length a few holes ago.
3:45: Woods drains the right-to-left birdie putt for three in a row, and he's now one under. Quite the bounce back after that opening hole.
He'll need a few more to close the gap on McIlroy though. Rory is en fuego. Check out this pure 2-iron he hit at No. 1 that led to an eagle:
McIlroy is now seven under through 11, and Dustin Johnson is just one back. It's all happening now.
3:39: Woods found the fairway at the par-5 sixth, then laid up to about 96 yards. From there he hit one over the flag and spun it back to within seven feet. Great chance for three in a row coming up.
3:23: Bang! Tiger buries one from deep at No. 5 for birdie and he's back to even par. Let's just pretend the first hole never happened. Deal? Deal.
3:16: From the fifth fairway, Woods hits a pitching wedge from 185 that was right on line, but came up about 30 feet short. Still a decent look at birdie though for Tiger to get back to even.
3:11: After tapping in his birdie putt to get back to one over, Woods rips a low iron down the right side of the fairway at No. 5.
3:00: Tiger cuts a 3-wood down the fairway at the fourth, then stuffs an iron to tap-in range. Looks like he'll be getting back to one over here.
2:51: Woods' birdie effort just misses catching the right edge and he taps in for another par. Two over through three. Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson are currently tied for the lead at four under. Would sign up for that final group on Sunday in a heartbeat.
2:45: Tiger takes 8-iron from 208 yards at the par-3 third and finds the green. Looks like he'll have less than 20 feet left for a much-needed birdie.
2:41: Solid chip from Tiger at the second, coming up just a foot short of going in. At least the short game looks good so far. And yes, he cleaned up the par putt.
2:35: Poor approach shot from Woods at the second with a wedge in his hand. Comes up well short of the green.
2:31: Woods stripes an iron at No. 2 right down the left side of the fairway. Here's video of his double at No. 1, if you're into that kind of stuff:
2:30: Woods has started events with a double bogey before (2008 U.S. Open anyone?), but he's already put himself in quite a hole. Check out the star-studded early leader board:
T-1 - Billy Horschel -3
George Coetzee -3
Xander Schauffele -3
Ian Poulter -3
HaoTong Li -3
Rory McIlroy -3
Dustin Johnson -3
Justin Thomas -3
Russell Knox -3
Plenty of birdies out there, and Woods could use a few quickly.
2:23: Tiger puts his fourth in a greenside bunker, then splashed his fifth out to tap-in range. Remarkable shot that he just landed on the green and let roll out. Routine double bogey.
2:20: First one was out of bounds, and the second one stayed in bounds but is in a world of trouble. So he's hitting four from no-man's land. No great, bob.
2:17: Woods' tee shot was worse than we thought. He just hit a provisional, and it went dead left again. Yikes. Golf Channel's Frank Nobilo said officials couldn't determine if the first one was in or out of bounds. Guess we're about to find out.
2:13: Little backup at the first tee, which is hardly surprising considering these guys drive it with 3-woods. So after waiting for the green to clear, and an absolutely electric announcement by the guy at the first tee who kicked off the proceedings by introducing TW as "TIGER, TIGER, TIGER WOODS!" we're finally off. Not a great start for Woods though, as he pulls one badly into the trees down the left side.
1:46: Woods is still going through his warmup, which apparently took place next to Patrick Reed on the range:
Good vibes all around!