It started poorly for Tiger Woods on Thursday as he played the first six holes at the 2018 Quicken Loans National in 2 over after doubling the par-4 6th hole. Woods would, however, turn it around over the final two-thirds of his first round, clawing back to even par on the day at TPC Potomac.
It might not sound like much, but after the way he drove it over the first few holes, the even-par 70 felt like a minor miracle, as Woods sits just seven back of the lead after 18 holes. With 40 players bunched up at between 1 under and 3 under, Woods doesn't exactly need to make a huge move to slide into the top 10. Of course, it could just as easily go the other way on Friday, too.
Woods was wild off the tee early in his round, as he he's been for much of the year, but the 6th hole was something to behold. Woods yanked his drive so far left that I had a physical reaction when I saw it off the club face. It bounced back toward the tee boxes and ended up traveling all of 198 yards. After a second shot that went into a hazard up by the green, he walked away with double bogey.
Woods was strong the rest of the way, and that was his only blemish on the card throughout. He finally took advantage of some strong ball-striking with birdies at the 14th and 16th holes and deftly got up and down after nearly driving the green on the short par-4 14th. His chip to 3 feet was tasty, and it got him going in the right direction for the first time all day.
"I shot about the score I should have shot today," Woods said on Golf Channel. "I didn't really have anything going in the middle part of the ground. I was just hanging in there, hanging in there. Hit some poor tee shots and didn't really give myself a chance. When I did I made a couple of birdies, which was nice, but I have to do a better job of giving myself some more chances."
As has been the case throughout most of the last month or so, Tiger hit his irons fairly well and was clean around the greens, but he drove it really poorly and the new mallet putter in his bag didn't help him on the greens. Woods finished near the bottom of the field in strokes gained putting, and what has been a strength throughout his career has suddenly turned into a question mark.
Woods remained optimistic about his flat stick, however, noting that even though he didn't make very many putts, he felt comfortable with his TaylorMade TP Ardmore 3.
"I rolled it well today, I really did," Woods said on Golf Channel. "I hit a lot of good putts early that didn't go in. I misread a couple on the back nine. Overall, I hit a lot of good putts. It was nice to feel that. It was nice to feel the putter swing again."
Woods will have to battle a bit (and make a few of those putts) to make the weekend at a tournament where he's a two-time champion. He does have one thing going for him, though. The course, TPC Potomac seemed to get tougher as the day went on, and the majority of the scores in the top six were shot in the morning wave, which is where Woods will play on Friday.
"Hopefully," Woods said on Golf Channel, "I can go out there and do it myself."
CBS Sports was with you the entire way Thursday updating this story with the latest scores, analysis and highlights -- particularly while Woods was on the course. If you are unable to view the updates below, please click here.
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