Tiger Woods' 2018 season has been filled with so many positives—his health, playing a full schedule and contending in two major championships to name a few. But there has been one trend that has hamstrung his quest for PGA Tour win No. 80: first-round scoring.
After posting a one-over 72 on Friday at the Dell Technolgies Championship, the second of four FedEx Cup playoff events, Woods has now failed to break par in 13 of his 16 official starts this year. That stat might be a bit misleading—he's shot even par in the opening round nine times—but Woods came into the week with a 71.07 scoring average in first rounds, 135th on the PGA Tour.
Woods, who entered the week 25th in the FedEx Cup standings, put a new Taylormade putter into his bag this week after going with a Taylormade mallet since the Quicken Loans in July. He said the new prototype feels awfully similar to the famous Scotty Cameron model he used to win all 14 of his major championships.
The switch, he says, was a long time coming but was surely expedited by a poor putting week at last week's Northern Trust. On a breezy Friday at TPC Boston, the putter wasn't the issue, as he picked up 1.7 shots putting against the rest of the field. He ranked in the top 15 in that statistic a week after finishing second-to-last of the 80 players who made the cut at the Northern Trust. Woods looked generally comfortable with the flat stick, particularly in the 4-8 foot range, but was sloppy with his irons and could not overcome a rough start.
The day started curiously for Woods. On the 10th tee box, he pulled a fairway wood before giving it a puzzling look and switching to another fairway wood. Apparently caddie Joe LaCava had switched the headcovers. Whether that had any impact on Woods' first swing of the day is uncertain, but he ended up snap-hooking one into a hazard left of the fairway and did well to make bogey.
The shaky ball striking continued throughout the front nine, and Woods was three over through 7 but would play the next 11 holes in two under to salvage a respectable round. He was five back of the lead when he walked off the course.
"When I did miss it, I missed it in bad spots, didn’t have very good angles," Woods told reporters after the round. "But overall, no one is going low out there today. It’s tricky with the wind blowing the way it is right now. Hopefully tomorrow I can miss in correct spots and make a few more birdies than I did today.”
Woods is expected to be named a Ryder Cup captain's pick on Monday, when captain Jim Furyk will name three of his four selections. He's also a lock to qualify for next week's BMW Championship, where the top 70 in the FedEx Cup standings after this week will tee it up, but is right on the bubble to make the Tour Championship as of now. Only the top 30 in the standings after the BMW will make it to East Lake, where the FedEx Cup champion will be crowned.
Woods is the only two-time winner of the season-long points race, having won it in 2007 and 2009. He has not played in the Tour Championship since 2013.
He will go off in his second round at 1:16 p.m. EST alongside Chez Reavie and Marc Leishman.