Putting woes leave Woods well behind
AUG 02, 2012 6:25p ET
"Unfortunately, I had four putts on every green," Woods said.
He was exaggerating. Slightly.
The first round of the Bridgestone Invitational on Thursday was about smooth greens and scoring -- 40 of the 78 players in the field are at par or better. For Woods, not being in the "or better" category is about missed opportunities as he seemingly couldn't buy a putt on a day he struck the ball as well as he probably could have.
Not even 20 minutes after he three-putted the 18th to slip to even par and seven shots behind leader Jim Furyk, Woods was back on the practice range.
"I'm going to go out and hit a few balls, reinforce what we're doing," Woods said. "And definitely going to putt a while, work on a few things."
Presumably, he was on the green a long while.
A seven-time winner here from 1999-2009, Woods called Firestone Country Club one of his favorite courses earlier this week. He called it "straightforward" with "no tricks," but he seemed at loss in trying to figure out why his putter abandoned him on a humid, wind-free afternoon that allowed the field to open some breathing room on the prohibitive favorite.
"I hit bad putts," Woods said. "My speed was off. The putts that I pured, I didn't make. And then the bad putts, I didn't have a chance."
Woods one-putt just four greens and had 33 putts on the day, failing to capitalize on a very impressive rate of 14 greens hit in regulation.
By comparison, Furyk had just 25 putts. At one point Thursday Furyk went seven straight holes with just one putt and was flirting with the course record of 61.
In finishing with a 63 despite two bogeys, Furyk is up two shots on England's Lee Slattery and three on a group that includes the world's top-ranked player, Luke Donald, and 2012 Masters champion Bubba Watson. Pairings remain the same for Friday's second round, with groups who played Thursday morning off the No. 1 tee playing Friday afternoon off No. 10 and vice-versa.
A year ago, Woods came to Firestone off a long layoff and wasn't 100 percent physically. He drove the ball Thursday like he used to here and seemed to have no regrets with swings that came before he was on the green.
After making the turn at 1-under Thursday afternoon, Woods posted back-to-back birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 and, at 3-under, was within three shots of what then was the lead. He bogeyed three times from there, leading to the extra work on the putting green in advance of his 10 a.m. Friday chance to try to close the gap.
"I was launching it out there," he said. "I felt good. I hit good drives, the ball was carrying. I hit a lot of good iron shots.
"I was 3-under. That's not bad. Being three back of the lead and at the time I hadn't made a putt, I thought that was a good sign. Unfortunately my finish was awful, and here we are."