Tiger Woods shot an even-par 71 during the first round of the Wells Fargo Championship on Thursday and is tied for 34th place, six shots off the lead of fellow American John Peterson in Charlotte, N.C.
Woods carded three birdies and three bogeys in his first tournament since the Masters last month, where he acknowledged his iron play let him down. Playing his first tournament since switching from Nike irons to TaylorMades, Woods displayed few issues with the transition, hitting 13 of 18 greens in regulation and carving several shots in to difficult hole locations.
It was the putter that prevented Woods from being closer to the leaders at Quail Hollow on Thursday. He drained a 27-footer for birdie on No. 8 to get into red figures but also missed five putts from inside of 10 feet, including a pair of four-footers. He also three-putted for bogey from 18 feet on the 16th hole, before saving par on the following par-3 with an 18-footer. Woods then settled for par when a birdie attempt from just inside 10 feet broke left of the cup on the 18th hole.
He finished the first round with 31 putts.
“It hit the ball fine, I struggled with my speed all day,” he told the Golf Channel. “It’s weird. The greens are firm, springy, but they’re putting slow, so my feel was off all day.
“They’re springy and they’re firm, that’s not a combo you would expect. So I just need to make the adjustments. I struggled to make the adjustments today.”
Woods is making his first appearance in the event since missing the cut in 2012. This is his seventh start on the PGA Tour in 2018, and Woods had consecutive top-five finishes before finishing 32nd at Augusta National.
Dating back to 2010 when he also missed the cut at Quail Hollow, Woods has averaged 31 putts over his past five rounds at the event while making just 56 percent of his putts from 4-8 feet.
“This golf course is a lot harder, a lot harder than what I played,” he told reporters after the round. “This golf course has gotten more difficult – a lot longer – and it’s got more difficulties.”
Woods took three weeks off before entering the Wells Fargo, and admitted he’s not yet sure what level he can take his game to following fusion surgery on his back a year ago.
“Not really, I’m just trying to get better,” he said. “I felt like I’ve played my way into playing shape now. Whether it’s the simple act of walking and playing, recovering from day to day and week to week. I feel like I’ve played my way into the rhythm of it. Now I’m just trying to get a little bit better.”
–Field Level Media