Tiger Woods fired a 71 today in the first round of the Honda Classic golf tournament at Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. He was one over par. Woods started on the back nine of the PGA National Golf Course, making the turn at one under, but had a double-bogey on the long par-4 second hole to slide back to one over. He went on to card two birdies and two bogeys to finish at 71, well behind the early leaders in Thursday’s round.
This is the first PGA Tournament action for Woods since the Farmer’s Insurance Open in January, and he was hoping to exorcise some of the demons he encountered there, missing the 54-hole cut at 6 over at the Torrey Pines golf course. As it stands this week, Woods has less than one point in the FedEx Cup Championship behind Jimmy Walker, who leads with 1,830. For players like Tiger Woods, though, the season didn’t really begin until the Florida swing starting this week at Palm Beach Gardens.
Today’s disappointing one over round came as somewhat of a surprise to golf fans, as the Honda Classic is close to Tiger’s home in Jupiter, Florida. Woods said he was feeling good and hitting the ball well after Wednesday’s Pro-Am.
This week’s event has attracted some of golf’s biggest stars and has benefitted from a favorable position on the PGA calendar, falling on the week between two big World Golf Championship events—the Accenture Match Play Championship last week, and next week’s Cadillac Championship at Doral near Miami. Before last week’s Accenture, none of this season’s tournaments featured more than 3 of golf’s top ten. This week features seven of the top nine.
Three of the biggest names who skipped the Accenture are playing this week’s Honda, including Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott. Justin Rose, the world’s sixth-ranked player, had to drop out because of a shoulder injury. Mickelson has skipped the last two events after playing in three events on the west coast swing. He hasn’t played in the Honda since 2002. Adam Scott last played a PGA event in early January at the Sony Open in Hawaii where he finished 8th at 10 under par.
For Tiger Woods, it’s the start of another year and a quest for another major championship. Woods, chasing Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors, is just four away from that mark. At one time the golf world assumed it was just a matter of time before he tied, and then broke that record. Woods, however, hasn’t won a major since 2008 and time is becoming his most formidable opponent. With each major that passes, and each year that passes, the questions and the pressure mount up. Each year the Florida swing is the unofficial start of the “serious” golf season, and the first major of the year, the Masters, is just six weeks away.
Tiger Woods won five times last season but none were majors. This week’s tournament isn’t a major, but it’s a good barometer for the state of his game as the major tournaments loom. For Tiger Woods, one over par on the first day of the Honda Classic is not the reading he was hoping for.
By Chuck Podhaisky