The big question everyone asks is, “Where is Tiger?”
After round one of THE PLAYERS, he’s five back of the first-round leaders, Tommy Fleetwood, a European star, and Keegan Bradley, a former PGA Championship winner.
Woods played in the afternoon wave of golfers, and they had to deal with the sea breezes during the afternoon.
“The wind was blowing early,” Woods said. “(It) died down at the end, and (we) felt like we could capitalize on a little bit on our back nine.”
He did exactly that, making five birdies on the back nine, at the 10th, 12th, 13th, 16th and 17th.
“I felt like I could have got something in the 60s today and got off to not actually the best of starts,” Woods explained. “I hit some bad shots early, rectified that, made a few adjustments and then went about my business.”
He plays in the morning on Friday, teeing off at 8:32 a.m., and hopes to have less windy conditions.
“Hopefully we can catch it on the calm side and some smoother greens and get it — post a low number and then see if the guys have to face what we had to face in the afternoon with the wind moving pretty good,” Woods said.
The breezes were 12 to 22 mph, according to the PGA Tour.
Meanwhile, Fleetwood and Bradley have the advantage after round one.
While Fleetwood is still on the rise, Bradley is trying to come back from making a putting change after the 2016 rules about anchored putting went into effect. He’s hoping to pull a Webb Simpson maneuver. Simpson, the defending champ at THE PLAYERS, also had to learn a new putting style.
“I don't normally feel as comfortable as I did out on the golf course today,” Bradley said. “I felt very calm, and this is a course that can make you very uncomfortable, so when you have that feeling you can really go a long way.”
Fleetwood said he drove it so well that he was always in a good position.
“The course feels different then,” Fleetwood said. “If you're in the fairway all the time, the course feels very, very different, and it's a massive key around here, and then I just started picking a few shots up.”
Rory McIlroy is in fifth place at 5-under par. Other crowd favorites, however, did not fare well. Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler are both 2-over par.