For Tiger, one down, three to go
NORTON, Mass. -- On Friday, Tiger Woods shot a 7-under-par 64 at the Deutsche Bank Championship for his lowest PGA Tour first-round score since mid-2009. The 36-year-old, 14-time major champion had eight birdies, including a stretch of six straight in the opening round of the second leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Woods owned the early clubhouse lead with Jeff Overton, at least until Seung-yul Noh shot 62 in the afternoon wave and Chris Kirk's 63 gave him second place alone. Woods is also tied for third with Ryan Moore.
Tiger hasn't owned a first-round lead since the 2010 Barclays, when he shot a 6-under 65 at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey. During his career, Woods has won 13 of 26 tournaments when he's had at least a share of the 18-hole lead.
His victory here south of Boston in 2006 was his fifth consecutive win that year.
Woods' 64 on Friday was his best round since he shot an 8-under 62 in the final round of the Honda Classic in March to finish in a tie for second behind Rory McIlroy, who shot a 6-under 65 on Friday.
In blustery conditions at TPC Boston, Tiger hit 10 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens. The only blemish on his card was a bogey at the par-4 ninth, his last hole of the day, where he couldn't get up and down after he was fooled by the wind on his approach shot.
Still, after angrily storming off Bethpage Black on Sunday with a final-round 76 at The Barclays, Woods was in a decent mood early Friday afternoon.
"I played really well today," said Woods, who had a 68.18 stroke average in 28 rounds at the TPC Boston course coming into this week. "I hit a lot of good shots, and on top of that I putted well at the same time. It was a nice combination.
"Overall I was very pleased with the way I played today and controlled it, and then the wind started picking up and I still hit really good shots."
Tiger missed a few putts, but he also made five putts outside of 12 feet. His game looked very sharp in what was a demanding morning of temperamental winds.
"I hit the ball flush today, and I just had a hard time getting it to try and figure out the wind, because if I hit it flush, it goes right through the wind," he said. "I'd like to say I hit some bad shots, but I really didn't.
"I hit a lot of good ones out there, and I just happened to hit it right through the wind, and I hit some numbers that I didn't even know I could hit just because I thought the wind would snag it a little bit more than it did."
The uncertainty that Woods feels about the wind at TPC Boston is how many of us have felt over the past couple of months about his game. He's looked good in the early rounds at the U.S. Open, the Open Championship, the PGA Championship, The Barclays and now the Deutsche Bank Championship. But his fortunes have unraveled on the weekend.
While conditions during the final two rounds got more difficult at those events, Woods' game shouldn't have deteriorated so drastically from round to round.
On Thursday after his pro-am round, Tiger dismissed the claims that could he no longer perform on the weekend and that he lacked consistency.
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"Well, it's just you can't really look at it as real bad going on this year," Woods said. "At the time, most of the year, I was leading the money list. I was No. 1 in FedEx Cup points and I won three times, so it's not like it's been that bad.
"It's just a couple rounds here and there or it's an up and down here and there or it's making one putt, which is not good. So that's a good thing."
Tiger can give a very accurate accounting of his year, but he hasn't done much lately to show progress from those wins.
So far he's played one very good round on the 7,216-yard TPC Boston. He needs three more if he wants to end his streak of weekend woes.