As host of the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, it was important for Tiger Woods to get off to a strong start. Fortunately, he did just that with a one-under 71 on Thursday.
The tournament, which benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation, takes place at Sherwood Country Club in California and features only the best golfers in the world. The exclusivity of the 18-man field is what makes the event so exciting.
While Zach Johnson got off to an early lead with a 67, Woods remained in contention with the top players on the leaderboard thanks to two birdies and only one bogey.
Here is a look at his scorecard and an updated leaderboard following Day 1 at the time of his finish.
Jonathan Wall of PGATour.com first reported that Woods would be using a new driver for this tournament in preparation for the upcoming season. After switching from Nike's VR Tour to VRS Covert earlier in the year, he will now use the VRS Covert 2.0.
Golfalot.com provided a look at the driver in his bag:
Although the change is not great, the early results were positive as Woods came through with some big shots on Thursday. Golf Channel's Tiger Tracker certainly saw some improvement:
Another smoked driver on 7. I think he's got the hang of this new club already.— GC Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) December 5, 2013
Obviously, consistency will be key going forward, but the strong driving in Round 1 is certainly encouraging for Nike and the champion golfer.
Bogey to Start
The day certainly did not start as Woods expected. While he did get to a green in regulation on the first hole and had a legitimate chance at a birdie, he missed the putt and then seemed to lose focus.
Missed it on the high side for birdie. And then... misses the tap-in. Seriously. That was inside 2 feet. Quickly tapped at it and missed.— GC Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) December 5, 2013
That was about as ugly as it gets. He's missed some shorties this year, but that may have been the shortest.— GC Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) December 5, 2013
A gimme miss for par gave him a bogey on the first hole, which set him behind his competition for the entire day.
Fortunately, he seemed to recover nicely from this misstep and regained focus for the rest of the round.
Strong Approach Gets Him Back to Even
The 2013 season saw a lot of great play from Woods, although there were questions about his consistency both off the tee and on the green. However, he was usually solid from the fairway in his approach shots.
This continued on Thursday with this impressive shot on the fifth hole, which gave him a chance for eagle on a par five.
While he only finished with a birdie, it was still an example of his impressive striking throughout the day.
Solid Play Throughout Back Nine
With so many elite golfers on course, it is obvious that someone is going to come through with a big day. While Woods was unable to keep up, he still put together a solid effort with few mistakes to finish one stroke under par.
He generally did a good job of hitting fairways and was able to get to the green even when he did not. Nothing was spectacular, but he avoided bogeys after No. 1 and stayed competitive in this tough tournament.
Here is a look at one of his best chip shots on No. 11 to move under par for the first time all day.
The superstar had a chance at a birdie on 18 but missed a short putt to prevent a lower score. Still, this was a quality showing and he remains in good shape with three rounds remaining.
Heading into Round 2, however, he might need to be a bit more aggressive with shots in order to make up ground in the leaderboard.
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