Tiger Woods was not spectacular in his first round at The Barclays tournament, but his solid performance shows that he will once again turn in an impressive finish at Bethpage State Park.
It has been a long road back for Woods since his fall from the top of the mountain, but he appears to nearly be there. He currently sits at No. 3 in the world golf rankings, but has yet to win a major since taking time off at the end of 2009.
He shot a 68 through the first 18 holes at The Barclays, firing just one bogey during the round and sitting four strokes behind leader Padraig Harrington. This was just about equal to his average-round score of 68.91 during PGA Tour events this year, which is the lowest among his competitors, according to PGATour.com.
His excellent average is indicative of the unequaled talent that led to his decade-long dominance over golf. Woods has recorded several stellar scores on tour this season.
This has led to three tournament victories, and a steady climb back toward the top of the rankings.
However, Woods' average could be even higher if not for a string of poor performances in later rounds. His Round 3 scoring average ranks 55th on tour and his Round 4 scoring average checks in at 36th, also according to PGATour.com.
This is starkly different to the form that won him 14 majors. Fans grew accustomed to a tournament essentially being over if Woods took a lead into Sunday.
Since 2010, this has not been the case. Even though he has steadily improved over the past two years, he has not figured out a way to consistently play well on the weekend.
At Bethpage, a solid, but unspectacular opening round will lead to steady improvement throughout the tournament, instead of a disappointing drop off in the final rounds.
At each of the four majors this year, Woods’ lowest score for a single round was through the first 18 holes. Each time, he was unable to maintain his pace and faltered as he moved forward.
In his most recent victory at AT&T National, his highest score of the tournament was during the first round. This was not the case at the other two events he won, but his first-round score was also not his lowest at The Memorial or the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
If Woods had came out with a stellar first round in New York, it would have been cause to worry that he was once again setting up for a disappointing weekend. Had he put up an awful score, that in itself would be enough to warrant concern.
An opening round that featured almost no mistakes and kept him within striking distance of the top spot is exactly what Woods needed to do to set up for a chance to win The Barclays.