Tiger Woods made his fourth appearance on the 2010 PGA Tour on Thursday at the Memorial Tournament. Despite being the defending champion, he struggled his way through the first 18 holes.
On the afternoon, Woods carded an even par round of 72 at Muirfield Village Golf Club on a day where he missed both left and right, and short and long. Still, he has not shot himself out of the tournament yet, but is seven shots behind the opening round leaders.
Geoff Ogilvy, Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler all recorded rounds of 7-under 65 en route to the first round lead.
It was Woods’ first competitive round since withdrawing from the Players Championship in the final round on the seventh hole due to neck spasms.
“I haven’t played,” Woods said in a post-round interview. “This is my 10th round of the year. Usually you’re like that in January. Here we are in June. I need competitive rounds. Hopefully I can make some birdies and get up there.”
After making his return to the game after a five-month absence, Woods got off to a promising start, tabbing a fourth place finish at the 2010 Masters Tournament back in April.
Since then however, Woods missed the cut at the Quail Hollow Championship, only the sixth missed cut in his professional career, an then withdrew from the players Championship.
Woods has had nearly a month of rest to try and rehab his neck that had been bothering him for quite some time.
While overall, Woods did not play well, he did find some bright spots from which he hopes to build off of in the future, beginning with the second round on Friday.
“I was encouraged I was able to hit a few other shots today that I haven’t hit all year,” Woods said in a post-round interview. “I hit some shots … the shape, the feel … it felt like it did last year. I just need to get back to them.”
On the day, Woods hit only half of the fairways and 10 of 18 green in regulations. He is currently in a tie for 50th position.
Phil Mickelson can overtake Woods a s the No.1 ranked player in the world with a victory, as long as Woods finished outside the top four.
Mickelson had a similar chance last week at the Colonial, but the No.2 ranked player missed the cut.
“I wanted to play well at Colonial, but [the missed cut] gave me a chance … you’ve got to take what you have and get a positive out of that,” Mickelson said. “It gave me a chance to work with Butch [Harmon]. Gave me a chance to work with [Dave] Stockton. Hopefully this tournament will give me a little momentum heading into the U.S. Open.”
Both Woods and Mickelson are the betting favorites on Online Sportsbooks to United States Open at Pebble Beach later this month