Tiger Woods is 5 shots back as his group gets put on the clock at Memorial
DUBLIN, Ohio – Tiger Woods spiced up a ho-hum round with three birdies in his last five holes to finish Thursday's play in the opening 18 of the Memorial Tournament on the right side of par.
It just wasn't far enough under par for his liking.
"It's one of those days that could have easily flipped. Like I could have gotten a few more out of it," Woods said after signing for a 2-under-par 70 at overcast Muirfield Village that left him five shots in back of Ryan Moore, whose 65 put his name at the top of the leaderboard.
"It was close to being easily a few more under par," Woods added. "It was soft enough, it was gettable. And I just didn't quite do it. I had a couple loose irons. But look at the scores, they're all getting after it today. I was close to being out there with them."
It was the little shots that got Woods. After a two-putt birdie on the par-5 11th, his second hole of the day, he hit a soft 9-iron from 155 yards on the par-4 13th into a bunker and made bogey.
Tiger Woods tees off on the 18th hole during the first round of the Memorial. (Photo: Joseph Maiorana, USA TODAY Sports)
TIGER: Woods shoots 2-under 70 in solid opening round
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A flip wedge on the next hole spun off the green into the rough and Woods had to scramble for par. A poor chip on the par-5 15th cost him a birdie. A poor chip on the sixth hole meant another bogey.
It wasn't a dreadful return to the PGA Tour after he missed the cut two weeks ago in the PGA Championship. It just wasn't a round to celebrate.
"Hung in there and finally got it turned around at the end," Woods said.
That was easier said than done. Woods' group, which included defending champion Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Rose, were put on the clock the final nine holes after falling a complete hole behind the group ahead of them.
Woods said it complicated things. It didn't help that DeChambeau was given a bad time warning with four holes to play; another bad time would have resulted in a 1-stroke penalty.
"I did have to speed up," Woods said. "We walked quicker. We got to the ball, slowed it back down trying to get in our natural rhythm. When we tried to speed up and tried to get back into it, we kept making mistakes to not allow ourselves to catch up with the group ahead of us."
Woods, however, was more concerned with tightening his game heading into the second round. He putted for 30 minutes after the round and will sharpen his short-iron play to adapt to the soft conditions at Muirfield Village.
"The only hard part is trying to take the spin off the ball," Woods said. "That's one of the things that is very different around here. You're usually trying to find spin wherever you can get it. But this week, you try to hit a lot of dead iron shots."
Woods said there's a lot more life in his game than there was at Bethpage Black for the PGA Championship. An illness drained him, but he has put on most of the weight he lost that week.
His swing speed has nearly reached the same peak it was earlier this year. The Masters victory in April – his fifth green jacket and 15th major title – has been celebrated. A record sixth Memorial victory – and then the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach – have his utmost attention.
"I'm definitely feeling a lot better, and I'm hitting the ball a little bit better," Woods said. "I just need to not make a couple loose mistakes like I did today."
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