"I could have got a couple more out of it."
A couple more that Tiger Woods might need come Saturday and Sunday at the Dubai Desert Classic.
Woods shot a just-fine 68 (good for T10 after round one) in his first appearance since that ghastly 79 at Torrey Pines last Sunday but it came despite only hitting seven of 14 fairways and 10 of 18 greens in regulation.
The fairways he did hit weren't exactly in ideal spots, either. On the par-5 550-yard 13th hole, a hole easily reachable in two, Woods chose to hit a 3-wood off the tee while playing partners Rory McIlroy and Stephen Gallacher both hit drives 90 yards past him.
Woods is fulfilling the narrative many folks have built for him -- that he can't hit a driver, at least with any confidence.
If you read between the lines Woods made a Hank Haney reference after his round regarding his driver.
"It's my old pattern again. With my last coach it was a push block. We tried to get out of that and go to a cut [a ball that curves from left to right]. It's harder to aim [more to the] right knowing that I've got to cut it."
Still, Woods only needed 25 (!) putts for the entire round went out in 32 and looked poised for a crazy low number but nine pars on the back left him at 4-under for the tournament, five back of McIlroy.
"We all played well," said McIlroy to ESPN, "Tiger took a little time to get going, but he managed his game really well the first nine holes and started hitting the ball better on the back."
Woods didn't go that far but he was still pleased.
"I'm going to work on a couple of things here and there, but I feel like it was a good day," said Woods. "I could have got a couple more out of it, just by making a couple of putts from about 10 feet or so. I hit a lot of good putts, which was nice. Last week I didn't do it. It was nice to actually play well again."
Here's a look at Woods' scorecard (note his 2-under performance in the par-5s -- birdies on No. 13 and No. 18 -- after not making a birdie last week in 12 opportunities):
There's still a lot of work to be done for Woods -- since 2000 the winner has scored 17 under or better -- but he backed up the sentiment on Thursday that his 79 last week at Torrey is an outlier.
And with the way he and McIlroy both played Thursday I wouldn't be surprised to see them paired for all four rounds -- the first two as a draw and the last two as the leaders of the tournament.
Woods summed up his day the way days with bogey-free 68s in tournament play should be summed up, for the world's No. 1 player or anyone.
"Overall it was a pretty good score."