- Bob Harig, Senior Golf Writer
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AKRON, Ohio -- The days are more frequent when Tiger Woods walks off a golf course frustrated by his lack of success on the greens.
Add Thursday to the list.
Disgusted, Woods said it seemed like he "averaged four putts a hole," and although it wasn't that bad, a poor day with the flat stick led to a disappointing even-par 70 at Firestone Country Club.
That put Woods seven strokes behind leader Jim Furyk at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, a tournament the world's No. 2-ranked golfer has won seven times. It is just the second time in 13 appearances at the Bridgestone that Woods has opened with a round in the 70s.
"I just hit bad putts today," Woods said. "I hit bad putts. My speed was off. The putts that I pured, I didn't make. And then the bad putts didn't have a chance."
It ruined what was otherwise a solid round for Woods, who hit 14 greens in regulation and gave himself numerous opportunities for birdies -- especially early.
But he needed 33 putts, never made a putt longer than 8 feet and missed eight other birdie opportunities inside 18 feet.
"We made some good changes here, and I felt like today it was good," he said of his ball striking. "I was launching it out there. I was hitting some good drives. Ball was carrying. I was shaping it both ways, which was good. I hit a lot of good iron shots as well."
Despite missing five putts inside 16 feet on the front side, Woods turned in 1-under 34, then made consecutive birdies at Nos. 10 and 11 to get to 3 under for his round.
"I was 3-under par. I mean, that's not that bad," Woods said. "At the time I was three back of the lead and hadn't made a thing. I thought that was a good sign. Unfortunately finished awful, and here we are."
Woods missed a 5-footer for par at No. 13 when he missed the green, then hit his worst drive of the day at the par-5 16th, where he was forced to chip out and lay up for his third shot. He made a bogey there, then three-putted the 18th with the missed short par putt.
Putting was a problem throughout the Open Championship, where Woods said he struggled with the speed of the greens. For the year, however, he ranks 21st on the PGA Tour in strokes gained putting.
In addition to winning this tournament seven times, Woods also has won nine other WGC events for a total of 16 in addition to his 14 major titles.
This is Woods' first start since tying for third two weeks ago at the Open Championship, his highest finish in a major since finishing second at the 2009 PGA Championship.
Since the end of 2009, Woods has failed to post consecutive top-10 finishes. After winning the AT&T National on July 1 for his third win of the year, Woods missed the cut at the Greenbrier Classic before the Open Championship.
His 70 on Thursday left him tied for 31st in the 78-player field.
Woods begins play Friday morning at 10.
1dKevin Van Valkenburg