Following a lackluster opening-round performance Thursday at East Lake, Tiger Woods will have plenty of ground to make up on the leaders this weekend in Atlanta if he hopes to win the 2013 Tour Championship.
Woods had very little luck with the putter in Round 1, failing to record a single birdie through 18 holes and shooting a three-over 73 to finish the first round nine shots back of leader Henrik Stenson (six under par).
Only PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner finished with a worse score than Tiger Thursday. He shot a four-over 74.
The PGA Tour's official Twitter account provides some perspective on Tiger's awful outing:
Tiger Woods is the only player in the field without a birdie today. Last time he went a full round without one: 2010 U.S. Open. #FedExCup— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 19, 2013
Afterward, a frustrated Tiger Woods declined all interview requests, according to GolfChannel.com's Tiger Tracker on Twitter:
Tiger declines all interview requests after the round.— GC Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) September 19, 2013
Yes, it was one of those days for Tiger, per Amazing Sports Pics on Twitter:
Tiger Woods hits out of the rough and directly into the camera of photographer Mark Pain during the 2010 Ryder Cup. pic.twitter.com/10qsP6xyjz— Amazing Sports Pics (@AmazingSprtsPic) September 19, 2013
Golf Channel's Kelly Tilghman adds some more perspective on Tiger's difficult day:
Tiger Woods career -181 in FedEx Cup playoff events. No one lower than that but today he was only player in field without a birdie— Kelly Tilghman (@KellyTilghmanGC) September 19, 2013
As Stenson, Billy Horschel, Steve Stricker and others were starting fast and picking up early birdies to jump out to the top of the leaderboard, Tiger was struggling, settling for par through the first four holes before a disappointing effort on No. 5.
Woods got in trouble early on No. 5, finding the bunker and going on to record his first bogey of the round.
Tiger Woods pitching out of a bunker at No. 5 at the Tour Championship. pic.twitter.com/uwma0FvyFO— superfloyd (@floydthinks) September 19, 2013
Though it was only Tiger's first bogey of the tournament, Woods' playing partner, Stenson, compounded the situation by lighting it up early. This put Woods under pressure and made every one of his mistakes that much more agonizing.
Tiger Woods needs to pick up his game, his playing partner and #1 contended is -4, he is +1. Both thru 5. #TeamTiger— Kip Wilson (@The_Kip_Wilson) September 19, 2013
Although he would go on to par the final four holes on the front nine, there was very little for Tiger to be encouraged by heading to the back nine as he watched the leaders pull further and further ahead.
After bogeying No. 10, Tiger dropped even further behind on the leaderboard, falling into second-to-last place at two over:
Henrik Stenson has this thing dialed in today not good if your a fan of Tiger Woods.— Matthew Pollard (@mphustles) September 19, 2013
At two over, frustration set in for Tiger and many of his fans on Twitter:
Something you don't often say: Tiger Woods is one shot out of last place at the Tour Championship at the moment.— Sean Greene (@SeanGreeneWDEL) September 19, 2013
Surprisingly, it only took a few more moments for Tiger's day to get even worse. He bogeyed No. 14, his third bogey on a par-four hole.
There is simply NOTHING more frustrating than watching Tiger Woods play golf. NOTHING.— DeAndre Nimble (@d_nimble) September 19, 2013
In the late stages of Tiger's first round Thursday, with his tournament chances diminishing with every missed putt, Parker Allen fairly pointed out that although Woods has returned to the top of golf, he's simply not the same cold-blooded competitor he once was on the sport's biggest stages:
With Woods' first round nearing completion, ESPN senior researcher Justin Ray tweeted a depressing statistic for Tiger and his fans:
Tiger Woods is currently the only player at the Tour Championship without a birdie today.— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) September 19, 2013
Even Dufner managed to sink three birdies on the day.
On No. 15, Tiger would squander a solid shot to pick up his first birdie of the round on the second and final par-five of the course, missing a put from just inside 10 feet. He would settle for par. Two holes later, Tiger would miss another birdie chance from inside 10 feet, settling for his 14th par of the round on No. 17.
Tiger's day would end appropriately with a par on No. 18, marking his first birdieless round of golf in over three years.
More importantly, Woods' historically bad round means he'll have to overcome a nine-shot deficit in order to win his third career Tour Championship this weekend.
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