This article is the answer to the most common every-tournament question: “How did Tiger do?” For much more coverage on the entire Open Championship, go here.
Tiger Woods rolled the long, curling putt across Royal Portrush’s 16th green, a good 30 feet at least, and it banged home for a birdie. The crowd around Skerries roared, Woods opened his arms wide to the heavens, and then did an NBA ref-style “it’s good” finger-drop. It was a great moment.
Problem is, it was the round’s only great moment.
Nobody realistically thought Woods could make a serious run at this year’s Open Championship. But most observers figured he’d do better than Thursday’s brush fire, a seven-over 78 that wasn’t terrible at any one point, just ugly across the board.
Woods has conceded that his body isn’t what it once was, and the chilly weather at Pebble Beach in June and Portrush this week isn’t helping his game. A weather system that ran the gamut from bright sunshine to pelting rain didn’t let anyone get too comfortable, but Woods more than most is a prisoner of climate.
Woods spent much of the round stretching between holes, trying to stay loose. His swing didn’t have the same snap as it had in Augusta, and the expressions on his face ranged from disgust to disdain. He grimaced at his very first shot of the day — a pounded drive that wandered into the snarled grass left of the hole — and didn’t get much happier as the day went on.
Tiger Woods is off the first tee at Royal Portrush. Little grimace after his drive. Not good. pic.twitter.com/Fm2aotBFO7
— Kyle Boone (@Kyle__Boone) July 18, 2019
Woods salvaged a par on the first and added another on the second. But, in what would become a recurring what-if theme on the day, he burned the edge on the third hole on a birdie attempt. Statistically, Woods was even with the field average in all major categories except putting; he gave away several strokes with errant or insufficient putts once he reached the green.
With the rain rolling in, Woods’ round went sideways starting with the fifth hole. He left a long putt well short and bogeyed that hole and the next. Then came the seventh. He left three straight shots in the thick grass to the left of the fairway, and by the time he was on his par stroke, he was still a good 100 yards from the hole.
It didn’t get any better as the round went on. Woods bracketed the turn — such as it is at Royal Portrush — with bogeys, and added another four holes later, so that when he arrived at the 15th, he was sitting at plus-7 and looking at an early exit for the second time since his Masters win.
He drained that long putt after a routine approach, and at last Northern Ireland got to unleash a Tiger Roar ... such as it was. But two holes later, he gave that stroke back, and stumbled into the clubhouse a beaten man.
Woods finished the round 12 strokes behind clubhouse leader J.B. Holmes. Woods will have a tremendous amount of work to do Friday to even make the cut. If not, well ... winning one out of four majors a year isn’t a terrible record.
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