Woods in major trouble at St Andrews
Tiger Woods shot 76, four over par, in the first round of the 2015 Open yesterday, which was his worst round in a St Andrews Open as a professional. His only higher number at the Home of Golf in an Open came in 1995, when he closed with a 78, but he was an amateur then, making his Open debut.
A winner of two Opens here, in 2000 and 2005, 39-year-old Woods can still make the halfway cut today (or tomorrow morning due to today’s rain delay), but don’t count on it.
In a field of 156, only three players dropped shots at both holes one and two in yesterday’s first round. Tiger Woods was the first. The other two were Finland’s Mikko Ilonen and Japan’s Hiroshi Iwata.
This set the tone for Woods’ round, as he toiled and tumbled to a share of 139th place.
“I’ve just got to fight, fight through it,” said a disconsolate Woods after his round. “Hopefully the conditions will be tough tomorrow and I can put together a good round and we’ll move up the board progressively.”
Four of Woods’ five dropped shots came on the front nine, when the conditions were at their most inviting, but he at least recovered to grind out an even-par back nine, playing into quickening breezes.
“I hit it really good coming home and I made some clutch putts,” said Woods. “I just needed to put those balls in position for birdies instead of for pars.”
Other than dealing with first-tee nerves – which have frequently blighted Woods over his career, even when at his best – the first two holes on the Old Course are not intimidating challenges by British Open standards. The priority on the first hole is not to deliver a wedge approach into the Swilcan Burn in front of the green, which can sometimes happen with backspin off the putting surface. But Woods didn’t even clear the winding waterway, he just chunked his wedged shot straight in, five yards short of his target.
On an ESPN broadcast yesterday, former U.S. Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger described Woods’ game as that of “a middle-of-the-pack hack”. Azinger thinks Woods should abandon the swing changes he is undergoing with coach Chris Como. Every time Woods takes a step forward, like with his creditable tie for 17th at the Masters, he then takes two steps back, like with his 80-76 and missed cut at the U.S. Open.
Woods tees off late today – 6:10pm due to this morning’s delay – when the weather is expected to be changeable and with stronger winds than yesterday.