For obvious reasons there was a lot of focus on Tiger Woods coming into this historic Open (for those saying ‘when isn’t there any focus on the Big Beast?’ fair point…). How would he fare having not played since pulling out during the the US PGA Championship? Could his injured leg cope with the exertion of a slow round on the mounds of the Old Course? Could his experience of two wins on the hallowed fairways of the ‘Old Lady’ of Fife trump his complete lack of competitive play?
Just 10 minutes after his 2.59 tee time the answers to all those questions were all but answered. Woods double-bogeyed the first, having found the Swilcan Burn, and while it was more than possible he could claw those early dropped shots back there was always more hope than expectation that that would happen.
He was four-over through four and while he was able to register birdies at the ninth, 10th and 14th he carded a six-over round of 78, for a spot way back in T-146th.
It was a downcast Woods who spoke to the press after the horror round.
“It feels like I didn’t really hit it that bad. I did have bad speed on the greens, yes,” Woods said. “But I ended up in bad spots. Or just had some weird things happen. And that’s just the way it goes.”
He went on to once again reveal how important it was for him to tee it up at the home of golf this week.
“(It was) very, very meaningful,” he said, “All things considered, where I’ve been, I was hoping I could play this event this year. And I am. I just didn’t do a very good job of it.
“The crowd were absolutely fantastic,” he said. “So supportive. They were very respectful and very appreciative of all of us out there today, which was great.”
It goes without saying that Woods needs to make up considerable ground if he is to avoid missing the halfway cut at the scene of two of his greatest triumphs, in 2000 and 2005.
“Looks like I’m going to have to shoot 66 tomorrow to have a chance,” he said. “Guys did it today. And that’s my responsibility tomorrow to go ahead and do it.”
On the evidence of the first round only his most fervent supporters will back him to do just that. But he is Tiger Woods and if anyone can plot their way round this famous course when up against it it is him. But if he is to make the weekend then, regardless of all his remarkable wins and records, it will be one of his most senscational achievements.
The Big Beast gets his second round underway at 9.58. Stay here to find out how he does and for all the action from the home of golf.