NEW YORK, United States, Aug 20 – Tiger Woods, returning to the putter he used in 14 of his 15 major triumphs, fired a three-under par 68 in Thursday’s opening round of the Northern Trust, the first event of the US PGA FedEx Cup playoffs.
The 44-year-old reigning Masters champion toured TPC Boston using his faithful Scotty Cameron putter, which has been in his bag for 21 years, instead of a longer version easing the load on his surgically repaired back he used at the PGA Championship.
“Just stubbornness I guess,” Woods said of the switchback. “I’ve been using that one for 21 years.
“I practice all along with a longer putter. All of a sudden, to heck with it, I’ll put it in play and see how it goes and it worked. When I gave myself some chances I made them.”
In only his ninth competitive round since the US PGA’s COVID-19 shutdown in March, Woods left himself four back of early clubhouse leader Harris English despite a closing bogey.
“I had a good feel today,” Woods said. “I had nice pace and I like the speed of these greens. They’re fast. Even though they are soft, they are still quick. I just felt comfortable.”
Woods was putting cold water bottles on his neck before the round after some of the hot oil he uses to loosen his lower back splashed onto his neck.
“My lower back is pretty immune to it,” Woods said. “But my neck is not.”
Woods, set to defend his Masters title in November, seeks an 83rd career US PGA title to break the all-time record he shares with Sam Snead.
The tournament is the first of three season-ending PGA playoff events, with the top 70 in season points after this week advancing to next week’s BMW Championship and the 30 points leader after that moving into the Tour Championhip next month at East Lake in Atlanta.
At 49th in points, Woods is safely into the BMW field.
Woods, who began on the back nine, fired his tee shot at the par-4 13th beyond a cart path to the right, found the rough with his next two shots and was inches off on a 30-foot par chip to settle for bogey.
Woods answered with a birdie at the par-5 18th, reaching the green in two and tapping in from three feet.
At the par-3 third, Woods holed a 16-foot birdie putt, then found a greenside bunker off the tee at the par-4 fourth, chipped out to four feet and rolled in his birdie putt.
Woods sank a six-foot birdie putt at the par-5 seventh, then sank a birdie putt from just inside seven feet at the par-3 eighth to reach 4-under.
But Woods stumbled home from there, finding the right rough and a native area at the par-4 ninth before chipping to 16 feet and two-putting for a closing bogey.