Thursday’s golf: Tiger returns with a whimper
San Diego — Tiger Woods had a rough return to the PGA Tour on Thursday.
A slow one, too.
Woods, playing Thursday in a PGA Tour event for the first in 17 months, fell apart on the back nine of the South course at Torrey Pines and wound up with a 4-over 76, leaving him in danger of missing the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open.
He was 11 shots behind Justin Rose, who shot a 65 on the shorter North Course.
Along with fighting his swing — he didn’t hit a fairway after No. 7 — and coping with thick rough he had not seen in quite some time, Woods had a hard time adjusting to the pace of play from being in threesomes for the first time since he last played a PGA Tour event at the Wyndham in August 2015.
“Honestly, it was just weird waiting that much,” he said. “Not used to doing that. At home, I guess we’re flying a little quicker than this. It was just a different rhythm.”
His game was greater concern than having to wait.
This was a battle from the start, when his opening tee shot went into the right rough and he hit a big cut closer to the gallery than the green. Woods did well to keep his score from getting out of hand early, with four tough par saves on the front nine to limit the damage.
He started the back nine with 10-foot birdie putts on the 10th and 11th holes, and with two par 5s ahead of him, starting to believe this could be a strong start.
Starting with No. 12, he played the next six holes in 6 over, with a double bogey on the 15th hole the biggest blow.
Woods hooked his tee shot over the crowd and into a ravine, letting the driver fall from his hands in disgust. He couldn’t immediately find his ball amid sand dunes and ice plants, instead finding a spot to take his penalty drop. He hooked a long iron through eucalyptus trees into more rough and couldn’t get it closer than 20 feet.
At least he ended with a birdie and a smile, which looked to be more of a relief — not only for Woods, but for Jason Day and Dustin Johnson.
The star group sure didn’t play like one, with all three players frustrated at times by the bumpy poa annua greens in the afternoon. Day, the No. 1 player in the world, missed five putts from the 4-foot range. He opened with a 73. Johnson made a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole for a 72.
None of them ever were better than 1 under at any point in the round.
“I was fighting out there all day,” Woods said.
Two local golfers had nice first rounds, including PGA Tour rookie Ryan Brehm (Michigan State) and Jackson’s Brian Stuard (Oakland). They each shot 4-under 68 on the North Course and were tied for eighth.
At Paradise Island, Bahamas, Brittany Lincicome shot a tournament-record 9-under 64 to take the first-round lead in the season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic.
Lincicome played a six-hole stretch at Ocean Club in 6 under, capping the run with an eagle on the par-5 seventh hole. She added birdies on 11, 14 and 15, and had only 24 putts. The 31-year-old American won the 2015 ANA Inspiration for her second victory in the major and the last of her six LPGA Tour titles.
U.S. Solheim Cup teammate Stacy Lewis was two strokes back along with Megan Khang and P.K. Kongkraphan. Lewis is winless since June 2014.
Second-ranked Ariya Jutanugarn had a 75. She won five times last season and took the LPGA Tour player of the year award. Top-ranked Lydia Ko is skipping the tournament.
Fifth-ranked Lexi Thompson opened with a 69, and U.S. Solheim Cup captain Juli Inkster had a 70 to start her 35th season on the LPGA Tour.
At Doha, Qatar, Wales’ Bradley Drege shot an 8-under 64 in calm conditions to take a one-shot lead in the Qatar Masters.
Finland’s Mikko Kornohen of Finland had a 65 at Doha Golf Club. Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell wasd another stroke back along with Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat and England’s Nathan Kimsey.