NEWTOWN SQUARE, PENNSYLVANIA – What’s that old saying?
Old friends make the best friends?
Tiger Woods knows a thing or two about that.
After two relatively flat weeks in the FedEx Cup playoffs using two different putters, Woods put his old reliable Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS back in his bag Thursday at the BMW Championship and used it to shoot an 8-under 62 at Aronimink Golf Club, one shot off the lowest 18-hole score in his career.
“I’ve hit hundreds of millions of putts,” Woods said. “I’ve had it since ’99. My body just remembers it. When I was using the Nike putter (prior to this year) I always bring it out and hit putts with it. Sometimes it works but it just feels very familiar to me.”
For a chunk of the summer, Woods put the Newport 2 away in favor of a mallet-style TaylorMade Ardmore putter, a significant departure considering Woods has won 13 of his 14 major championships using the Scotty Cameron.
Last week at the Dell Technologies Championship, Woods put a different TaylorMade putter into play, a blade model, but it didn’t make it to the first tee at Aronimink.
On the first hole in sweltering conditions Thursday, Woods rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt and was on his way. He shot 29 on his first nine holes and took full advantage of Aronimink’s wide fairways and relatively defenseless state.
Woods hit nine of 14 fairways and missed just two greens, one of which led to his only bogey at the long, difficult par-3 eighth (his 17th hole).
Like going back to his putter, Woods recently recalibrated his driver, adding a degree of loft and returning to a shaft he used successfully in previous years.
“My speed, my rotation, so many different things that have evolved throughout the year and have gotten better and so we’ve decided to go with more loft and go back to a shaft that I won with a lot,” Woods said.
“The feel in my hands, oh, that’s a familiar feel, that’s a familiar flex point, that’s a familiar vibration of the shaft. Those are all things that I used to feel and but now I think I’m in position I can do it again.”
Woods has shot 61 once on Tour – the 1999 Byron Nelson event – but lost a realistic shot to do that with his late bogey.
Woods finished tied with Rory McIlroy at 8-under par, giving him a share of the first-round lead in a PGA Tour event for the first time since the 2009 PGA Championship. McIlroy, it should be noted, hit all 14 of his drives 314 yards or longer, topping it with a 350-yard blast on one hole.
On Wednesday, Woods skipped the pro-am, believed to be the first time he’s missed a pro-am, to make sure he was well rested after a Monday finish at the Dell Technologies Championship. With temperatures in the Philadelphia area approaching 95 degrees this week, Woods watched tennis on Wednesday.
“I needed it. I really did,” Woods said.