Tiger Woods is playing exceptional golf these days. While he may not have finished as well as he would have liked at the 2013 Masters a few weeks ago, Woods still managed a top-five finish. On Thursday, Woods continued his strong play in the opening round of the 2013 Players Championship to the tune of a 5-under 67.
Woods currently finds himself deadlocked in fourth place on a stacked leader board topped by Roberto Casto at 9-under par, four strokes clear of Woods. Former US Open champion Webb Simpson, veteran Steve Stricker, Hunter Mahan and Casey Wittenberg are among those tied with Woods to start Friday's second round.
Woods did share second place at 6-under while standing on the tee at the tough par-4 no. 18 hole at the TPC Sawgrass. He was staring down his first ever bogey-free round at the Stadium Course, but a flushed approach shot released just off the green, leaving him a touchy chip shot back into the wind. Tiger proceeded to chunk that chip, leaving him with a par attempt a foot off the green. His fourth shot stayed to the right of the hole and Tiger tapped in for his first dropped shot of the day.
Still, Tiger's round of 67 was the first time he shot that well in this event since 2007. After his round, Tiger acknowledged that a number in the 60s was his main focus.
"I knew today was a day I had to open with something in the 60s", Tiger said. "Most of the guys were under par in the morning session, but the afternoon players saw a little bit of wind. The wind dried up the greens, making them a little bumpy. You just had to leave the ball in the right spots."
Woods will tee-off Friday's second round in the morning groups, providing him a different look at Sawgrass thanks to changing conditions.
"Balls were flying forever [Thursday afternoon]," Woods continued. "I hit a little 8-iron into no. 18 and the ball just flew. [The golf ball] might not travel as well [Friday] morning."
By his own admission, Tiger's ballstriking in his opening round was questionable. While he put himself into position off the tee rather well (10/14 fairways in regulation), Woods struggled with hitting greens in regulation (12/18) throughout his round. His "miss" throughout the day was to the right, which is actually a promising sign for a player who often struggles with a snap hook when playing poorly. Tiger's ability to manage whatever position he left himself in translated to two birdies on the front nine and four on the back.
Scoring conditions will likely remain optimal for Friday's second round. At the time of this writing, the weather report for Ponte Verda Beach, Fl. predicts temperatures in the mid-80s with low humidity and tons of sunshine. assuming Tiger can make an adjustment on his approach shots during his morning range session, look for him to score well again on Friday.