NASSAU, Bahamas – It was a lackluster start to the last event of the year for Tiger Woods at the Hero World Challenge. Here are some thoughts and observations from a largely underwhelming 1-over 73 that left him one shot out of last place in the 18-man field.
• First the good. Tiger put on a clinic off the tee on Thursday, hitting 13 of 14 fairways and regularly out-driving his Thursday mate Justin Thomas. Albany isn’t exactly a thorough driving examination without wind, but the tournament host was impressive nonetheless.
• Following a slow start that included a bogey at his second hole and another at the fifth after a particularly ugly three-putt, Tiger rebounded with back-to-back birdies at Nos. 6 and 7 to make the turn in even par.
• Now the bad. Tiger’s iron play was largely inconsistent. Even with a wedge in his hand, he was well south of sharp. “I would like to hit the ball a little bit closer than I did today. Today was probably the easiest it's going to be the entire week,” he said.
• When Tiger did give himself looks at birdie, he was far from automatic with the putter. He needed 17 putts on his opening nine, and although there is no ShotLink this week, you didn’t need to see his stroke gained: putting numbers to know he’s had better days on the greens.
• Things bottomed out on the par-3 12th when Tiger pulled his tee shot left of the green, hit a clunky chip that rolled back into a water hazard and walked off the green with a double bogey-6. He rallied with birdies at Nos. 15 and 18, but the damage was done.
• Tiger came to this event last year ranked 1,199th in the Official World Golf Ranking. If he finishes inside the top 7 this week, he could move back into the top 10 in the world for the first time since August 2014.