Memorial Tournament Tiger Tracker: Tiger Battles Back from Early Round Woes to Finish Even on the Day
Tiger Woods entered the 2018 Memorial Tournament as one of the biggest names in the field, seeking to make a comeback to golf much like his 2012 Memorial victory. Woods is a 5-time Memorial champion, and in the past made a habit of dominating the Muirfield Village course. Woods started his round on the 10th, and struggled early on to control his shot off the tee, finding the rough or fairway bunkers on 3 of his first 4 holes.
On the 11th hole Woods elected to go with a 2-iron in an effort to control the tee shot, and in the end found the rough to the left of the water hazard running along the fairway. When asked if he had ever hit a shot from left of the hazard, Woods said, “Unfortunately, many times, actually. Yeah, but usually it’s driver, trying to drive it in the neck. I’ve hit it left over there. Not with a 2-iron.”
Woods seemed to have his short irons and wedges locked in all day, but struggled to gain any control over his long irons or fairway woods. By the time Woods was through 6 holes, he was 4 over. It was apparent throughout the round that Woods was struggling to get his back loose, and that its stiffness was affecting his play.
“My back is fused,” Woods said. “I’m going to have days where it’s just tight. Unfortunately, today was one of those days and that’s all right. I don’t have any pain, thank God. It’s just tight. So, no biggy.”
Although Woods struggled to consistently strike the ball, he had the moments of brilliance that captivated his fans throughout his career. On the 10th and 13th holes he had shots out of fairway bunkers that seemed to leave him in a punch out situation with the lip of the bunker ten feet high. In both situations, he blasted out and landed the ball on the green.
By the second half of his round Woods was making more quality shots than not, and was working back down from the 4 over score he quickly set. Back-to-back-to-back birdies on the 5th, 6th, and 7th holes allowed Woods to get back to even on the day and put himself back into contention early. Pars on the final two holes of his round left him even on the day, and level on a day of roller coaster like ups and downs. Woods was happy with his ability to fight back after a dismal start.
“I didn’t really have much starting out. Didn’t really feel my swing very well and consequently I hit it both ways, mainly left,” Woods said. “I wasn’t rotating very well. Kind of made a few tweaks, a few changes, made a couple birdies, made a couple putts and lo and behold I finished at even par, which I know it’s a long way back, but at least I’ve got a fighting chance.”