After all the talk of Tiger Woods possibly using a new mallet putter at the Quicken Loans National this week, it was finally time to put it into action on Thursday at TPC Potomac. And … it did not go well.
Woods opened with five straight pars, but made a disastrous double bogey at the sixth that looked like it would be too much to overcome because of his poor putting. He made another seven straight pars, rarely even scaring the hole for birdie, and was nine back of Andrew Landry heading to the 14th tee. Then he nearly drove the green at the short par 4 and got up-and-down for birdie, which proved to be the momentum he needed, as he went on to pick up another birdie at the 16th and finish off a round of even-par 70. Nothing special, but considering where he was with just five holes to go, he did well to keep himself in the tournament.
Still, the flat stick was a huge issue, as Woods ranks 94th in strokes-gained/putting and a lowly 101st in putts per green in regulation through one round. He’s due for a bounce back on Friday, and he’ll need to drop a few putts early to start inspiring some confidence. Woods goes off the 10th with Marc Leishman and Bill Haas at 8:20 a.m. ET.
1:09 p.m.: Strong bunker shot from Woods that stops on a dime five feet from the cup and he holes the putt to save par. That’s a five-under 65 for Tiger, putting him firmly in contention heading into the weekend at the Quicken Loans. Productive day for the 14-time major champion.
1:01 p.m.: It looked like Tiger struck his tee shot well, but apparently he did not, as it came up well short and in a green side bunker. Going to need some more short game magic to post a 65.
12:56 p.m.: We almost jinxed him. Tiger finally flinches at the eighth, missing the fairway and then hitting his approach into a greenside bunker. But he gets up and down for par with ease, keeping this strong round intact. He heads to his final hole of the day, the par-3 ninth, at five under.
12:38 p.m.: Woods’ approach comes up well short of the hole and he two putts for par from 43 feet. Cooling off a bit, but avoiding any mistakes, something he didn’t do on the first nine by making two bogeys.
12:26 p.m.: A rare 3-wood for Tiger off the tee at the par-4 seventh and it just rolls into the first cut down the right side of the fairway. He’ll have 166 yards left to the hole.
12:19 p.m.: Tiger expected more break, but he hit it with too much pace and it rolls by a few feet. He did save the par to remain at five under, which now has him four back of solo leader Beau Hossler.
12:14 p.m.: Woods is obviously feeling it judging by his reactions to every shot, like his 197-yard approach at No. 6, which produced a min club twirl and stare down. While it’s not very close, 30 feet from the cup to be exact, he clearly hit it how he wanted, and will have a nice uphill look at birdie.
12:07 p.m.: Woods goes with driver at No. 6 again and … gulp … he hits the fairway. Disaster avoided this time.
12:01 p.m.: Birdie number 7 for Tiger, moving him to five under and into a tie for 10th.
11:58 a.m.: After ripping an iron off the tee, Woods had just 93 yards left to the hole and played a perfect sand wedge in to near tap-in range. “Should” clean that up and move to within three of the lead. Can’t say anyone expected this after that double bogey on Thursday.
11:47 a.m.: Woods gave it a good run, but it just turned left on him at the hole. He remains at four under, four back.
11:42 a.m.: Woods’ approach finds the green and produces a strong roar from the crowd as it rolls to 12 feet. It’s all happening now.
11:34 a.m.: Yes sir! Another long birdie conversion for Tiger at No. 3 gets him to four under. Every golfer in America will have a mallet out for their Saturday morning round tomorrow. The guy can’t miss:
What a turnaround. He’s now made over 100 feet of putts on Friday, doubling his total from Thursday, and he still has six holes to go. He’s just found the fairway at the fourth with an iron, continuing to build on this momentum. Woods is now within four of the leaders, and Friday at the Quicken Loans is beginning to feel like a major (only half-kidding).
11:26 a.m.: Woods plays a smart tee shot to the front part of the green at the par-3 third, leaving him 24 feet for birdie to get to four under.
11:15 a.m.: Two-putt birdie for Tiger, giving him five birds on the round. He’s now three under for the tournament, five back of Spaun and Dahmen.
11:11 a.m.: Woods’ 330-yard drive left him 276 yards out. From there, he smoked a 3-wood and found the green, leaving him a long look at eagle. Starting to find his groove.
11:02 a.m.: The SmokeWagon is beginning to heat up, as Woods crushes another and it finds the short stuff. Should be in good position to give it a go at the green.
10:58 a.m.: Woods’ slick 12-footer leaks a little to the right and lips out. Tough break, but he’ll have another chance to get one at the par-5 second.
10:54 a.m.: Tiger asks his 149-yard approach shot to get down and it listens, hitting the back edge of the green and spinning back to 12 feet.
10:43 a.m.: Clearly feeling himself, Woods mashes one down the middle at No. 1. Can you say momentum?
10:36 a.m.: Best way to avoid more struggles with the mallet putter? By chipping in. Woods opens the face, clips a perfect chip and drains it for birdie. What. A. Shot:
After looking like making bogey was possible, Woods holes it to turn in two-under 33, putting him six back of solo leader J.J. Spaun.
10:31 a.m.: Woods takes a big hack out of the thick grass and gets it up near the green. Solid effort from there, and it gives him a good chance to get up and down to save par.
10:27 a.m.: For the second day in a row, Tiger blocks a drive way right of the 18th fairway, but gets a decent kick and should have a good stance in the rough.
10:22 a.m.: Woods’ long birdie putt motored past the hole, leaving him a testy six-footer for par, which he missed. Three-putt bogey to drop back to one under for the tournament. Mallets stink again.
10:16 a.m.: At the 190-yard par-3 17th, Tiger hits one of his worst tee shots of the day, but it still finds the green. He’ll have a 38-footer coming up for birdie.
10:11 a.m.: Tiger’s 21-footer goes just past the hole and he cleans it up for par. He’s at two under through seven, five back of Andrew Landry and Joel Dahmen.
10:03 a.m.: Woods gets extra-safe off the 16th tee with a 3-iron and catches it a bit heavy, hitting it just 211 yards, leaving him 187 yards to the hole. His approach was a good one, right of the pin and in the center of the green. He’ll have one of his longer birdie looks all day, which he’s done well with so far.
9:54 a.m.: Bang. Another birdie for Tiger, his third of the day to get to two under. Mallets for everybody!
9:49 a.m.: Tiger hits a beauty from 153 yards out on his approach shot, about 15 feet below the hole. That’s been his range today.
9:41 a.m.: Tiger breaks out the SmokeWagon for the first time all day and pipes it 337 yards right down the middle. Needed that.
9:38 a.m.: At the short par-4 14th, Woods’ tee shot finds a fairway bunker and the best he could do was blast it out in front of the green and get it down in two for par to remain at one under. Two big missed chances in a row for Tiger.
9:22 a.m.: Tiger’s putter reverts to its Thursday form on his short birdie effort, as he pushes it right of the hole. Still one under for the tournament.
9:17 a.m.: From 125 yards out, Woods’ approach flies right over the flag and sticks to about 7 feet. Hole that and we may have something going here.
9:11 a.m.: Iron off the tee once again for Woods at the 365-yard par-4 13th and he finds another fairway. Why fix what’s not broken?
9:07 a.m.: Woods buries his 18 foot, right-to-left swinger of a birdie putt. That’s three putts in three holes. Mallet sales are skyrocketing as we speak.
9:04 a.m.: Tiger finds the green at the par-3 12th, and he’s looking at an 18-footer for birdie.
8:58 a.m.: Woods sneaks the bogey putt in the right side of the cup. Everyone exhales simultaneously.
8:53 a.m.: They found it, but with an impossible lie, Woods hacked it out about two yards. Then he quickly played his fourth and chipped it to about five feet. Not a great way to back up an opening birdie, but a bogey would be a good score here.
8:49 a.m.: Another iron off the tee at No. 11 for Woods and another fairway. His second shot, however, came up short and right of the green, and it looks like it’s in the hazard. Yikes.
8:44 a.m.: At the par-5 10th, Tiger stripes an iron off the tee and then puts his approach just short of the green. Oddly, he went with the putter and left it 21 feet short of the hole, appearing to miss a big opportunity to get his round going with a birdie. But he ended up pouring the birdie putt right in the center, putting him in red numbers for the first time this week.