Tiger Woods rides putter swap, birdie run to shoot first-round 68

Tiger Woods didn’t have a scientific purpose behind returning to the shorter Scotty Cameron putter he has to a great extent depended on for over two decades after a concise break from it during the PGA Championship prior this month.

“Just stubbornness,” Woods said Thursday after his opening-round 3-under 68 at the Northern Trust, the first event in the three-week FedEx Cup playoffs. “I was practicing with the other one to make sure I could get some reps and get some feel, and all of a sudden — heck with it, I’ll just put [this one] in play and see how it goes. It worked.”

Woods went to the next version of the Scotty Cameron putter, he stated, in light of the fact that the more extended length put less strain on his back and permitted him to practice a bit more.

The late decision to return to the shorter version paid off in Thursday’s first round.

Beginning the tenth tee at TPC Boston, Woods played the more troublesome back nine in even standard before getting hot on the front side. He birdied four of the initial eight holes before a wayward tee shot prompted a bogey at the ninth, his final hole of the day.

“When I gave myself some chances [on the front nine], I made them,” said Woods, who trails a group of four players by four shots and is tied for 30th.

Woods abounded in a 16-footer at the long par-3 third to get into red figures. He followed that with another birdie subsequent to getting up and down from the greenside bunker at the short par-4 fourth hole. After standards at the 5th and 6th, he changed over a couple of 7-footers for birdies at Nos. 7 and 8 preceding the hiccup at the last.

“I like the speed of these greens,” he said.

His first playoff event didn’t come without some dramatization. Woods was seen putting ice-cold water bottles on his neck before his round. He said it was nothing more than to cool off some hot oils he had used to loosen things up.

“My lower back is used to it. It’s accustomed to it. We do it all the time just so I can get loose,” Woods said. “I decided to put some up on my neck, and it’s not as tolerant as my lower back, so it gets awfully hot. It’s common in pretty much every other sport and especially hockey, those guys put some pretty hot stuff on their legs, but you become accustomed to it. My lower back is pretty immune to it, but my neck is not.”

Woods is entering a possibly hectic stretch that could see him play four out of the next five weeks. After the Northern Trust, he is focused on playing the following week’s BMW Championship at Olympia Fields only outside of Chicago. The next week is the Tour Championship, which he won two years back.

For that one, though, “I’ve got to get to Atlanta first; I’m not in,” Woods said.

The top 30 players on the FedEx Cup points list advance to the Tour Championship at East Lake; Woods entered for the current week in 49th place. After that event, there is seven days off before the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, which starts Sept. 17. The major was initially booked for June yet was pushed back on account of the three-month shutdown constrained by the coronavirus.

“The top 30 guys who do qualify for East Lake, they’re going to play a hefty load here, whoever those 30 guys are,” Woods said.

Thursday’s round was a solid initial phase in the pursuit for one of those 30 spots. The 68 coordinated how he began at the PGA Championship fourteen days prior. At TPC Harding Park, however, Woods battled with the more drawn out putter the remainder of the week, never entirely changing in accordance with the speed of the greens.

“Had one good day [at the PGA Championship], the first day, and then after that I didn’t really putt well,” said Woods, who opened with a round of 3-under or better for just the third time since the start of 2019.

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