Tiger Woods got off to a reasonably strong start at the 2013 BMW Championship, but a roller-coaster finish prevented the world No. 1's five-under round of 66 on Thursday from being closer to the top of the leaderboard.
Tiger began the day with a birdie off the 10th hole at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest, Ill., and proceeded to par his way through seven of the next eight holes. Back-to-back birdies on Nos. 2 and 3 got him to minus-four:
However, two three-putt bogeys in the next three holes put a damper on his day. Brandt Snedeker held the lead in the clubhouse at eight under par when Woods finished.
The margin is only three strokes, though, thanks to a closing birdie by Woods at the par-four ninth, which was his final hole.
It had to feel good after a myriad of short misses that preceded that relatively long-distance putt.
Golf Channel's Tiger Tracker supplied Tiger's thoughts on the round:
The tracker also unsafely assumed Woods would tap in for par after a birdie miss at the sixth, but it was ultimately mistaken after a shocking miss on an automatic putt for most players—especially Woods:
Being second in the FedEx Cup standings in the third leg of the PGA Tour postseason leaves Woods in wonderful shape and easily in for the season finale. What really made this round encouraging was that he bounced back strong from a poor tie for 65th in the previous Deutsche Bank Championship.
A week off between the last tournament gave Woods time to presumably rest up, as he struggled through back spasms at The Barclays and was presumably affected at least somewhat in light of his lackluster effort in Boston.
It all looked to have paid off on the first day at Conway Farms. Woods didn't play his very best, but he shook off any notion of rust from an idle week by recording seven birdies.
His approach shots and distance control were spot-on for the majority of the day, as many of his birdie conversions came from close range. One of those came at the par-four fifth hole, where he stuck it to four feet in the midst of his run of three-putts:
Kelly Tilghman of Golf Channel pointed out the way Woods' day trended near the end:
The mistakes Woods made down the stretch were essentially unforced errors with the putter, which has been extremely solid for him all year long, as he ranked first in total putting entering this tournament.
Even after those two three-jacks, Woods still managed to bounce back with a birdie at No. 7. Though he was disappointed to miss a short one at the par-five eighth to get to minus-five, he ultimately achieved that number with his putt at the last.
To nitpick an otherwise solid day on the course, Woods' lack of a birdie on any of the par-fives is somewhat of a red flag.
When Woods is on top of his game, he's almost always capitalizing on those scoring opportunities. If he can get two out of three in Round 2 and avoid the uncharacteristic three-putt pitfalls, the 14-time major champion should figure into the hunt entering the weekend.
By hitting 10 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens in regulation on a blustery but favorable scoring day, it will take only a bit of cleaning up with the flat iron for Woods to prevail if his ball-striking stays this sharp.