Tiger Woods Shoots 3-Under 68 in Strong Round 1 Showing at 2020 Northern TrustAugust 20, 2020
Tiger Woods overcame a sluggish start Thursday to post a three-under 68 in the first round of the 2020 Northern Trust at TPC Boston in Norton, Massachusetts.
Woods, who started on the back nine, was one over par through eight holes after a bogey on the 13th. He rallied with five birdies over the final 10 holes to get himself back in red figures in the first tournament of the 2020 FedEx Cup Playoffs. He did end on a sour note with a bogey on the last, though.
The 15-time major champion struggled off the tee, finding just 42.9 percent of the fairways, but his reliable iron play created opportunities for birdie (77.8 percent of greens in regulation) and he putted better (1.14 strokes gained putting) after issues on the green in the PGA Championship two weeks ago.
Scoring conditions were favorable early Thursday at TPC Boston, which allowed Harris English to grab the clubhouse lead with a blistering seven under 64 with the afternoon wave of play just getting underway. So Woods will still have plenty of work to do if he's going to contend this weekend.
The 44-year-old fan favorite entered the week 49th in the FedEx Cup standings. The top 70 will qualify for next week's BMW Championship, and then the top 30 will advance to the Tour Championship in early September.
Woods' health will be in the spotlight as he'll be attempting to play four tournaments in five weeks if he completes the playoff schedule followed by the U.S. Open, which tees off Sept. 17. He'll also be the defending champion in The Masters beginning Nov. 12.
"That's potentially what could happen [three in a row], and we've been training for that," Woods told reporters in early August. "Trying to get my strength and endurance up to that ability to making sure that I can handle that type of workload."
He made it through four rounds of the PGA Championship, including several fierce swings out of the heavy rough, without any setbacks involving his troublesome back. He continued to compete without any sign of physical restriction Thursday, which is a promising sign.
Woods can take some stress off his back by finding some more fairways for the remainder of the Northern Trust and in the coming weeks.
He'll tee off the second round at 1:17 p.m. ET on Friday alongside playing partners Dylan Frittelli and Matthew Fitzpatrick.
A win this week would be his 83rd, breaking a tie with Sam Snead for the most in PGA Tour history.