No Fireworks For Tiger Woods on Players Championship Day 1

Tiger Woods wasn’t spectacular in the opening round of The Players Championship on Thursday. He didn’t even break par until the final hole before the turn. But he was solid, which is a lot better than last week.

Woods played a bogey-free first 15 holes. After grinding through eight consecutive pars, he birdied the par-5 ninth at the TPC Sawgrass after blasting a 3-wood approach from 271 yards away to within 18 feet of the flagstick.

That marked the first time Woods had been in red figures since the third hole of his opening round at last week’s Quail Hollow Championship. He missed the cut in Charlotte after rounds of 74-79 — the worst 36-hole score of his pro career and ahead of just 10 other entrants.

His second birdie Thursday came on No. 11, when he drove 312 yards down the right side of the fairway and landed his second shot on the par-5, 558-yard hole right beside the green. He got up and down for a birdie, dropping him to 2-under.

Woods got birdie No. 3 on the par-4, 449-yard 15th hole after sinking a 121/2-foot putt.

Golf’s No. 1 attraction was four shots behind the pace of Robert Allenby, who was at 7 under par through 16 holes. Isleworth’s J.B. Holmes posted a 6-under 66 during the morning wave.

Woods played Thursday with WGC Match Play titleholder Ian Poulter and Hunter Mahan, a winner in Phoenix this year.

Greeted by enthusiastic applause at the No. 1 tee, Woods changed it to a heavy “ooooohh” when he hooked his opening 3-wood deep into the trees on the left. With his ball resting against a twig, he blasted a hard hook through the lumber and onto the front of the green, allowing him to par No. 1.

Heading to the second tee, Woods stopped and turned when a woman called out, “Tiger, remember your dad’s with you!”

Unlike the heavy show of uniformed police at last week’s Quail Hollow Championship, security was handled with a lighter touch around the TPC Sawgrass. Most security personnel blended in with spectators, dressed much like tournament volunteers.

Shouts of encouragement continued to follow Woods around the course. The golfer even broke his usual laser focus to say “thank you” between some holes.

Woods also parred No. 2 — missing a 4-foot birdie attempt at the shortish par-5 — and kept parring through the next six holes as well.

Woods was unusually short off the tee at the par-4 seventh hole, barely making the cut to begin the fairway. Measured at 190 yards, it prompted Woods to flick his 3-wood at his bag upon arrival. His second shot actually was some 70 yards longer, flying long and left of the green.

After a chip to 2 feet, Woods had his seventh consecutive par. He added yet another par at the par-3 eighth, two-putting from 19 feet.

Woods is in danger of losing his No. 1 ranking for the first time in 258 weeks if he finishes out of the top five and Phil Mickelson, who opened with a 70 Thursday, wins the tournament.

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