Tiger Woods stumbles over the final six holes at Firestone

Jonathan Wall

Through 11 holes on Thursday afternoon it looked like Tiger Woods had found something at Firestone -- a course that's been his personal playground over the years.

Cruising along at 3-under, Woods was doing everything right: hitting fairways and greens and making a couple putts, including back-to-back birdies to start the back-nine. But as quickly as the good vibes came in, they disappeared just two holes later on the par-4 13th.

After missing the green on his approach, Woods failed to convert a four-footer for par for his first bogey of the day. A cold putter continued to plague him for the rest of his round, as he missed a makeable birdie on the par-4 17th, and a par putt from just outside two feet on the 18th to shoot 70.

"Well, I hit it good today," Woods said after his round. "Unfortunately once I got to the greens, probably I think I averaged about four putts per hole, so it was a great day on the greens. …

[Related: Bubba Watson bombs his way to a 66]

"I just hit bad putts today. I hit bad putts. My speed was off. The putts that I pured, I didn't make. And then the bad putts didn't have a chance."

Woods was joking about the "four putts per hole," but for a portion of the day it felt like he couldn't make a thing on Firestone's greens. If Woods has aspirations of winning at Firestone for the eight time in his career, he's going to have to improve on the 33 putts he had in the first round.

The silver lining for Woods was that his tee-to-green play was on point for pretty much the entire day. He hit 14 fairways and 14 of 18 green during the round, which is about as solid as it gets, but when you fail to wedge it close and convert birdie/par opportunities, you're not going to have a lot of success.

While the final six holes of the round were disappointing, Woods opening with a round of 70 or worse is pretty typical these days. This season he's managed to break 70 in the opening round only four times in 13 events, and two of them ended with wins.

When you've had as much success as Woods has had at Firestone over the years -- this was only the second time in 11 starts at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational where Woods failed to break 70 in the first round -- struggling down the stretch would lead many to believe something is amiss.

But honestly, this is the way Woods has played for much of the year. He's looked good for stretches before hitting a rough patch. On Thursday the rough just happened to come with six holes left in the round.

Which Tiger will show up tomorrow? It's tough to say at this point. If it's the guy who was in contention for 12 holes, Woods could find himself in the mix come tomorrow evening. But if it's the Tiger who looked lost on the greens over his final six holes ... he could be in for a long week.

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