Tiger Woods needs to go low at MPCC

2/10/2012 - Golf Tiger Woods

This week during the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, our experts on site covering the event share a few observations of Tiger Woods' game as well as the rest of the tournament.

1. What does Tiger Woods need to improve upon -- if anything -- at Monterey Peninsula's Shore Course on Friday?

Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Iron play. He said it himself Thursday, that he was disappointed with his distance control, especially with his wedges, during the first round.

Ron Kroichick, San Francisco Chronicle golf writer: He needs to make some putts. Woods didn't miss many short ones Thursday at Spyglass, but he also failed to convert several mid-range birdie attempts. If he wants to start hoisting trophies again, like Old Tiger, he needs to start putting like Old Tiger.

Sarah Turcotte, ESPN The Magazine senior writer: Tiger played well on the toughest course in the rotation. He'll be out earlier, so he'll have some dewy rough to contend with should his driver not be as sharp. At MPCC, he'll have to score. He admitted to leaving a few birdies out there today, and I don't think he'll be in the position to do so on an easier track.

Gene Wojciechowski, ESPN.com senior national columnist: Four-under at Spyglass is no small thing; it's the toughest course in the Pebble Beach rotation. But he was grousing about his wedge play, so I guess there's that. Otherwise, he played pretty solid.

2. How low does Tiger need to go Friday to stay within shouting distance of the leaders?

Bob Harig: At least 5-under. With weather expected to be mild again, Tiger needs to take advantage of the course considered easiest among the three in the Pebble Beach rotation.

Ron Kroichick: The top five players on the leaderboard must still play Spyglass, traditionally the toughest track in the rotation. That bodes well for Woods. But he probably needs to post another 4-under round (66 at Monterey Peninsula) to stay close to the leaders.

Sarah Turcotte: I'd say 4-under is a minimum for him on MPCC if the weather stays this favorable.

Gene Wojciechowski: With no wind -- and there wasn't any on Thursday -- he needs to do better than 4-under at the Shore Course. He said as much after his round. Maybe something in the Charlie Wi/course-record 61 range? Nah, 6-under tomorrow would help.

3. Which golfer surprised you the most in Round 1?

Bob Harig: Ken Duke. After shooting par on the front nine at Pebble Beach, he shot a record 28 on the back, going 8-under par for nine holes. That would be surprising anywhere.

Ron Kroichick: Dustin Johnson. Yes, he has a history of strong performances at Pebble Beach, including two AT&T wins. But he has struggled in his first three starts of 2012, as he tries to come back from off-season knee surgery. So it was surprising to see him post 63 right out of the gate.

Sarah Turcotte: Is anyone not going to say Ken Duke? The guy's iron game is his strength, and with no wind, he certainly scored well. But I don't think anyone saw that score coming.

Gene Wojciechowski: Golfers, plural: Wi and Danny Lee. Conditions were tame here Thursday, but who figured on a 61 by Wi and a 63 by Lee at Pebble Beach? Not me. I'm not even sure Wi and Lee did.

4. What was the best shot you saw, pro or amateur, on Thursday?

Bob Harig: Tiger's approach to his very first hole, the par-4 10th. From 146 yards, he hit the flag with a pitching wedge shot that stopped 3 feet from the hole.

Ron Kroichick: I didn't personally witness Steven Bowditch play No. 15 at Spyglass, but here's what he did: He shanked his tee shot on the par-3 into the water. Then, on his next attempt, his shot sailed into the hole on the fly. Routine par, eh?

Sarah Turcotte: I saw two shots that were sooooo close to being the shots of the tournament so far. The first was Nick Watney's tee shot on No. 15. He nearly holed out, which would have gotten him to minus-9 on Spyglass. He ended up lipping his putt and his back nine turned out just so-so.

The second was Dustin Johnson's eagle putt on No. 18 at Pebble. I was right behind him. He hit the putt perfectly, and I swear it was in all the way. He looked back smiling and mouthed, "no way" as it just hung on the edge. Johnson took his time walking up to his tap in. He was a centimeter away from the outright lead at minus-10, and the course-record 62 at Pebble Beach. So, so close.

Gene Wojciechowski: I saw Bama coach Nick Saban chip in for a birdie/net eagle at Spyglass. Given the way he was chipping during most of his round, this had to be the shot of the day. I say this lovingly.