Tiger Woods' 1st Round at Players Championship Proves He's in Top Form

Jesse ReedCorrespondent IMay 10, 2013

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 09:  Tiger Woods of the USA reacts after putting for birdie on the 12th hole during round one of THE PLAYERS Championship at THE PLAYERS Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass on May 9, 2013 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Tiger Woods is tied for fourth place at five-under par after Round 1 of the Players Championship, and he missed out on a few birdie opportunities. It was the first time in his storied career that Woods finished the first round with a score in the 60s in this tournament, per Eye on Golf:

That's a scary thought for the rest of the golfers on tour.

In fact, if not for a bogey at No. 18, he'd have finished the round with nary a mistake on his scorecard, as pointed out by Golf.com on Twitter:

After such a masterful round, it's a shame that a chunked chip is the last thing Woods will remember about his performance on Thursday.

All in all, Woods posted six birdies on the day and just the one bogey, and he birdied all four par-fives, which is rare for him at this course, according to ESPN's Bob Harig:

The Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass has given Woods fits over the years. According to USA Today, his average score was 71.44 in 55 rounds before Thursday's action. He won this tournament in 2001, but since then Woods has not fared well on this course.

In the past, Woods has struggled to hit fairways and greens, but he was rock solid in the first round of this year's tournament—especially off the tee. According to PGATour.com, Woods hit 71.43 percent of his fairways and 66.67 percent of his greens on Thursday.

Woods hit his season average for greens in regulation, but he was well above his dismal fairways in regulation mark for the season (55.71 percent). He sacrificed distance off the tee (just 283.5 yards on average) for accuracy, and it surely paid off. 

Even more frightening for the rest of the field is the fact that Woods wasn't on point with his putter. He only gained 0.276 strokes with his putter, which is way off his tour-best seasonal average of 1.476.

Should his putter get hot over the weekend, and should he continue hitting fairways like he did on Thursday, Woods will be in contention for his first Players Championship trophy since 2001.

Woods has won three of the six tournaments he entered this year, and it's clear from his consistent excellence this season that he's fully back in command of his game. 

That said, there are three rounds left in this tournament and plenty of other top golfers in the field in great shape to make their own weekend charge. Stay tuned, folks, because this year's Players Championship is turning out to be a dandy.


Note: Woods' seasonal stats courtesy of PGATour.com.

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