Tiger Woods didn’t blow the field away, but did plenty to stay afloat in his first round of official PGA Tour golf since the coronavirus pandemic shut down the sport in March.
Woods finished with a 1-under 71 on Thursday at the Memorial Tournament at Jack Nicklaus’ Muirfield Village. He currently sits in a tie for 18th place, five shots back from leader Tony Finau.
The round started and ended well for Woods, who birdied two of the first three holes. With Rory McIlory (2-under) and Brooke Koepka (even) in his group, there was plenty of reason to keep an eye on him.
Two bogeys put Woods back at even par at the turn. He ended up at 1-under with an 18th hole birdie. His best shot might come on the 15th hole with an approach shot that left him with a tap-in birdie putt.
Pretty solid for a guy playing his first PGA Tour golf in five months, assuming you don’t count the second itineration of The Match. His most recent event was his own Genesis Invitational in February, where he finished last among golfers who made the cut.
Woods’ review of his play, from ESPN:
"Well, it's been a while since I've played," Woods said. "Got off to almost an ideal start and got a feel for the round early. I just didn't make anything today. I had looks at birdies, but I really didn't make much."
"It felt good [to be back]. I mean, it felt good," Woods said. "I was a little bit rusty, but felt like overall it was a good start."
Woods is at least returning to a course where he’s seen plenty of success, having won the Memorial Tournament a record five times in its history.
The 44-year-old golfer held off longer than many other golfers on returning to action citing both his safety and comfort as the sport attempts to navigate a global pandemic:
"I just felt it was better to stay at home and be safe," Woods said. "I'm used to playing with lots of people around me or having lots of people have a direct line to me, and that puts not only myself in danger but my friends and family, and just been at home practicing and social distancing and being away from a lot of people. Coming back and playing the Tour, in my case over the 20-some-odd years I've been out here … I'm used to having so many people around me or even touch me, going from green to tee.
However Woods performs for the rest of tournament, this weekend at Muirfield figures to be competitive. In fact, the tournament, by the numbers, features the most stacked non-major field at a PGA Tour event ... ever.
🚨Stat of the week:— Nosferatu (@VC606) July 13, 2020
The 2020 @MemorialGolf SoF is set to break many #OWGR era records. As it looks now, this will be:
- strongest regular @PGATOUR event ever
- 1st regular PGA Tour event with SoF > 800
- stronger than any Playoff event ever
- stronger than the last 8 Masters pic.twitter.com/btBDoZrPsX
Woods, McIlroy and Koepka will return to action on Friday with an 8:17 a.m. ET tee time.
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