Single Tiger gets back on the prowl
tiger woods yesterday provided the perfect advertisement for the single life when shooting a 65, his best score of the year. Three days after his divorce came through, Woods finally began to look like the world No 1 again when blazing a trail in the first round of The Barclays in New Jersey.
The performance was well-timed for other reasons than simply the necessity of paying the alimony. Woods is currently ranked 112th on the FedEx Cup standings and needs to move up at least 12 places this week if he is to go forward to next week's second event of the play-off series. Furthermore, he needs to show some form to Corey Pavin, the US Ryder Cup captain, who names his four wild cards in 12 days' time.
Woods had fallen so low that he was actually in the first group to tee off at the Ridgewood Country Club yesterday. But he soon distanced himself from the FedEx backmarkers with four birdies in the first seven holes. From there, he posted three further birdies to negate the solitary bogey on the 12th.
This was much like the Tiger pre-scandal, as he himself acknowledged.
"It's exciting to hit the ball flush like this again," said Woods, sharing the clubhouse lead on six-under alongside Vaughn Taylor. "It's something I've been missing all year."
Woods has floundered in all facets of his game this year in the stormy aftermath of the sex scandal that led to him taking five months off from golf and resulted in a divorce this week from his Swedish wife Elin Nordegren.
Winless in nine starts this season, the world No 1 missed the cut at Quail Hollow and had the worst four-round performance of his PGA Tour career at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational earlier this month.
Asked if his poor form was strictly a golf matter or whether it could be pegged to distractions in his personal life, Woods said: "I think it's all of the above."
At the US PGA Championship following Bridgestone, Woods received some tips from Canadian swing coach Sean Foley. Last year's FedEx Cup winner said he continued to work with Foley last week and that helped him correct some flaws on Thursday.
"Well, it was backswing, downswing and follow through," he said about what needed fixing, drawing laughs from his audience at the media center.
Joining Woods on 65 was fellow-American Taylor, who birdied three holes in a row from the 13th.
Rory McIlroy was also back in fine form, finishing up three shots behind Woods after a 68.
Starting on the 10th, the Holywood star picked up one birdie on the front nine and two more on his way home during a flawless round.
After a bright start, Padraig Harrington endured a frustrating finish to his opening round as he aims to impress European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie ahead of Sunday's wild card selection.
The Dubliner closed to within two shots of Woods after 12 holes, with birdies on the 16th, 17th, first and third, but back-to-back bogeys on the fifth and sixth brought him back to two-under par and he finished with a 69. (© Independent News Service)
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