Playing one of his favorite events at his, Tiger Woods showed considerable rust en route to an opening 6-over 78 in the 150th Open Championship on Thursday at St. Andrews. On the course for the first time since the third round of the PGA Championship in May, Woods' score across the 18 holes was the highest of his career as a professional, matching the 78 he shot at the Old Course as an amateur in the final round of the 1995 Open.
Catching a bad break off his first tee, the 15-time major winner's ball found a divot in the middle of the fairway on No. 1 and subsequently dumped his approach into the burn in front of the green -- just as he did in the first round of the 2015 Open at St. Andrews.
Unable to get up and down after taking a drop, Woods carded a double bogey. It did not get much better from there.
"In a round, sometimes it just goes that way and never seems to come back no matter how hard you fight," Woods said. "And then I compound problems with my bad speed on the greens. I hit the ball in correct spots, a couple times leave myself some good putts at the correct angles, and I messed those up."
Consecutive bogeys on Nos. 3 and 4 put Woods at 4 over through his first four holes, and after making two straight pars, it felt as if the 46-year-old was finally settling into his own. However, in a shock to the system, Woods once again made a fatal mistake when his tee shot on the short par-4 seventh found the fairway bunker on the short par-4 12th, leading to another double bogey.
As if the mountain to begin the week wasn't high enough, Woods' play through the first seven holes made it considerably steeper to climb. Despite the poor start, he showed resolve with back-to-back birdies around the turn. After making it on the green in regulation on the difficult par-3 11th, a two-putt par would have seen Woods head to the drivable 12th at 4 over with a chance to salvage his round.
Instead, a sloppy three-putt effort derailed any thought of a comeback, and his round was made even worse when his short birdie effort on the 12th missed badly. From there, Woods' final six holes featured a little bit of everything as he carded two bogeys, three pars and a birdie for a 6 over final score.
"The total score [is the most disappointing]," Woods said. "It feels like I didn't really hit it that bad. Yes, I did have bad spin on the greens, yes. But I didn't feel like I hit it that bad. I ended up in bad spots or just had some weird things happen.
"It's just the way it goes. Links golf is like that and this golf course is like that. I had my chances to turn it around and get it rolling the right way, and I didn't do it."
Tiger will need to dig deep to reach his goal of playing into the weekend as he did at both the Masters and PGA Championship. With the projected cut line at even par, he will need to take advantage of calmer morning conditions to secure two additional strolls around the Old Course at St. Andrews.
"This was always on the calendar to hopefully be well enough to play. I am. I just didn't do a very good job of it [Thursday]," Woods said.