After a rough start, Tiger Woods settled in well with an even-par 71 during the first round of the 2019 WGC-Mexico Championship.
Before lining up for his first shot, Woods did get a spectacular entrance from the public address announcer:
The day couldn't have started worse for Woods with a double-bogey on No. 1 thanks to hitting his tee shot out of bounds:
Woods' second attempt of the tee nearly went out of bounds but caught the rough at the edge of regulation to prevent him from a complete meltdown out of the gate.
The altitude in Mexico was a talking point leading up to the tournament. Woods told reporters Tuesday he was making a change in his clubs by going with a 5-wood instead of a 2-iron this week to accommodate the thin air.
"The spin is the same, but the ball stays flat," Woods said. "It doesn't peak. The 5-wood will spin more."
With nowhere to go but up after carding a six, Woods turned a corner starting on the fourth hole. He had a run of three straight birdies that brought him one-under par for the round, highlighted by this approach shot on No. 6:
A bogey on No. 8 dropped Woods back to par when he made the turn. His putting has been an area of weakness early this season.
The 14-time major champion averaged 31 putts in first rounds coming into the WGC-Mexico Championship. His front nine was an improvement in that area with just 13 putts, though he needed 16 over the final nine holes.
Woods' was unable to take advantage of a clean slate on the back nine. His short game seemed to get progressively worse as his round went alone. The 43-year-old had a run of eight straight holes with at least two putts from No. 7 through 13.
The 13th hole was problematic for Woods, as he took a bogey after needing three putts all within four feet.
Woods was finally able to cure his short-game woes on No. 15. He got back to even par with a birdie on that hole and salvaged par with a 12-foot putt on 17.
Prior to starting his round, Woods announced he would have to skip out on next week's Honda Classic. He's still trying to find a consistent rhythm with his game, but finishing Thursday at par is a step in the right direction.
Unfortunately for Woods, the rest of the field isn't waiting for him to find himself. Rory McIlroy is the clubhouse leader after shooting an eight-under 63.
If Woods can carry the momentum he found late in Thursday's round over to tomorrow, he can put himself in contention to win this tournament for the eighth time in his career and first time since 2013.