Woods ‘fighting all day’ with horror 76 at Farmers

Torrey Pines, CA: For 11 holes Tiger Woods showed glimpses of possibly getting back to his best before a horror close to a first Tour round in 17 months on the opening day of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.

Woods began with a bogey and then after eight straight pars he muscled his way to one under par with back-to-back birdies at the 10th and 11th holes on the North Course, and one of two host venues along the Pacific Ocean near San Diego.

But it all came unstuck for the current World No. 663 ranked Woods after dropping five shots in a four hole stretch from the 12th to eventually sign for a four-over 76.

Olympic Gold medal winning Justin Rose brilliantly eagled the last to overhaul the Tour’s newest ‘Mr. 59’ Canadian Adam Hadwin and seize a one shot lead with a seven under par 65.

Rose returned to competition after finishing second a fortnight ago behind red-hot Justin Thomas and the Tour’s seventh ‘Mr. 59’ at the Sony Hawaiian Open.

“I hit all the par 5s in two and I managed to convert two of those, so to play the four par 5s in six under was the key to my round,” he said.

“It also was a sweet way to finish and I’ve something good in the bank, so to speak, heading to the more difficult South Course.”

It had been 523 days since Woods last contested a PGA Tour event when he birdied the final hole to share 10th place in the 2015 Wyndham Championship.

And if there was any doubt the now 41-year Woods had been missed that was clearly evident with a rousing reception he received walking onto the first tee.

In fact, one spectator shouted out: “Welcome home, Tiger”.

It was reference to the fact Woods has won eight times in his career at Torrey Pines, including his last Major in 2008, and a record on the same course no other golfer in the history of the PGA Tour can boast.

Woods produced his first 300-yard plus drive of the round at the seventh in rifling a 303-yard effort but it was still 16-yards behind playing partner and big-hitting World No.3 Dustin Johnson.

It was at the par four 10th that Woods really had the California crowd roaring in draining a 10-foot birdie while he also holed a birdie from around the same distance at the next.

Sadly, Woods undid all his work with bogeys at 12, 13 and 14 while he had spectators ducking for cover after driving his tee shot way left at 15 that disappeared over a fence boarding a ‘lateral’ hazard and from where he took a penalty drop and walk off with a double bogey ‘6’.

Woods slipped to five over for his round in dropping a shot at 17 but then gave those who had walked the course with him something to cheer about after rolling in a nine-foot birdie putt from behind the flag stick for an eventual round of a four-over par 76.

“I was fighting out there all day and I didn’t really hit it that good,” said Woods.

“The greens were a little tough on some of the putts but I had a round I let slip away in the middle part of the back nine and unfortunately I didn’t hit too many good shots today.”

“It was just tough out there period as I was in the rough for most of the day, and the rough was wet and from the very first hole I thought ‘Okay, here we go’ with a ball that was buried well down in the grass’.

“The grass was growing from left to right and that’s the path I needed to take but this is the very first hole and I said ‘Okay, let’s not try to do this anymore today’ and unfortunately that’s what happened for much of my day.”

And when asked what positives Woods could take into day two on the South Course, he remarked: “I fought my tail off out there, I fought hard.”

“It was nice to put together a round when I wasn’t hitting it that great early. I was putting together the round.”

“As I said, I was 1 under through 11 and I was in a good spot to really shoot a good round today and didn’t really have, you know, my best stuff early.”

“But I got through there and that’s one of the positives obviously I’m going to take out of it.

“We somehow all made birdie on the last hole, so we were high-fiving it there. We don’t know how we made them, but we’re going to go over on some better greens tomorrow, some better conditions and hopefully not only myself but the rest of the guys, we can put some good numbers up tomorrow.”

Paul Casey continued his good end-of-season form in signing for a three under par 69 while Londoner, Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston managed to shake off the effects of a head cold and sign for a level par 72 in his first event as a member of the PGA Tour.