- Bob Harig, Senior Golf Writer
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ATLANTA -- After a strong start that saw him briefly pull into contention Friday, Tiger Woods fell apart over the closing five holes, playing them in 6-over par and dropping into a tie for 26th place in the 30-player Tour Championship field with a 71.
Woods birdied five of the first 13 holes at East Lake and had pulled within four strokes of tournament leader Henrik Stenson when it all went bad with a poor tee shot at the 14th hole.
He made a double-bogey there, failed to birdie the par-5 15th, added another bogey at the 16th and found the water off the tee at the 17th, leading to a triple-bogey.
Just like that, Woods went from 5 under on his round to 1 over and dropped to 4 over for the tournament.
"I put everything I had into that start and didn't have much in the end," said Woods, who trails second-round leader Stenson by 11 shots. "Just ran out of gas."
Woods played the opening round of the tournament without a birdie, a first since the 2010 U.S. Open and just the seventh time in his career as a pro on the PGA Tour that he failed to birdie any hole during a round.
His first birdie of the tournament finally came on the third hole, and he birdied Nos. 8, 9, 12 and 13 to get inside the top 10 on the leaderboard.
For that stretch, he hit the ball well, as he did Thursday when he hit 12 greens in regulation but took 34 putts in a round of 73.
"I hit it better yesterday, and I made obviously nothing," Woods said. "Today, didn't hit it quite as good, even through the stretch where I was 5 under for the day. So even through that stretch, I didn't hit it as good as I did yesterday, but I made some putts.
"That's the name of the game. You've got to make putts."
Woods appeared to walk gingerly after the round and has had some back issues that plagued him a few weeks ago at the Barclays and again Monday at the BMW Championship. He did not play a practice round prior to this tournament or hit balls.
Asked about his health, Woods was not specific.
"I'm tired," he said. "It's just been a long, long grind."
Woods will have an early tee time Saturday morning as the tee times have been moved up due to weather concerns.
9hKevin Van Valkenburg