LA JOLLA, Calif. – Reality can have a nasty way of crashing the party.
For all the anticipation and excitement surrounding Tiger Woods’ first competitive round on the PGA Tour in 17 months, a choppy, unattractive 4-over par 76 at Torrey Pines’ South Course was a rugged reminder of the challenge still facing Woods.
Anyone expecting magic is still waiting.
Four fairways in regulation. Nine greens hit. Thirty putts.
A tie for 133rd place after the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open.
“Didn’t really hit it that good,” Woods said.
It could have been worse. Woods saved a handful of strokes on the front nine with his short game and seemed on the verge of playing himself into contention when he birdied the 10th and 11th holes to get to 1 under.
Then he went bogey-bogey-bogey-double bogey starting at the 12th to spoil his round on the sunny, cool afternoon.
“I fought my tail off out there. I fought hard,” Woods said. “I was putting together the round. I was 1-under through 11 and I was in a good spot to really shoot a good round today and didn’t have my best stuff early.”
Then it slipped away. Woods kept missing fairways – he didn’t hit one after the seventh hole – and couldn’t keep saving himself from the thick, wet thatch of rough ringing the South course.
Neither of Woods’ playing partners broke par Thursday. World No. 1 Jason Day three-putted four times on his way to 73 while world No. 3 Dustin Johnson posted 72.
They will get a crack Friday at the redesigned North Course with its pristine new bentgrass greens where the scoring average was more than three strokes lower Thursday than on the South.
An inordinately large Thursday gallery followed Woods and his group but they didn’t see vintage Tiger.
“I think everyone was kind of anticipating what the comeback would look like,” Day said. “I said it over the last couple of days, we can’t just break down everything he did today because it’s been 17 months. Let him go a year, let him play and go from there.”