Three years ago, an opening round 73 like the one Tiger Woods had on Thursday at the Frys.com Open, would have raised many eyebrows in the sporting world. "What's wrong with him?" "Tiger didn't break 70?" "He's going to have to go low on Friday to win this one."
That's not so much the case anymore with Woods. Long removed from dominant golfer status, Tiger teed it up this week in a Fall Series event basically to test out his golf game in a tournament situation. Did he come to win? Sure, he'd say that. Do people (besides Las Vegas) think he had a shot? No, not really.
But that's the beauty of Tiger at this golf tournament. He isn't really there so much to compete as he is to get some reps before flying to Australia, and if there ever was a man that needed to get out there and play, it's Tiger Woods.
So when he opened with a birdie on his first hole at CordeValle, things looked great. And then not so great.
Yes, Tiger is 2-over and well back of the lead, but he had some positives he could build on. He hit the ball okay, but not great. He putted decent, but not spectacular. He struggled with green speed, but if not for an errant second shot on the par-5 12th, we'd be talking about an even-par round and I'm sure that would be fine by Tiger.
As much as we might hear from Tiger that he's back and he's ready, you really can't expect much from a guy that keeps taking months off between golf tournaments. The competition is too great, his swing is too loose and his confidence isn't exactly 2001-esque. Tiger is playing to "test it out" as he used to say about his knee, and on Friday I'm sure he will try to do a little better than Thursday.
Yes, both playing partners beat Tiger in the first round, but that's golf in 2011. Tiger's there, he's the main attraction, and he brings random eyes to the game, but what you're watching is practice in real time for Woods. There is a long way to go before he can be a factor once more.
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