Tiger Woods leads Chevron World Challange
“On this course, you have to birdie the par fives - there are five of them - and I did that today,” Tiger Woods said immediately after his round. He leads by one over Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy at his own tournament the Chevron World Challenge.
Sixteen top players are in the field, and the others are Bubba Watson, Anthony Kim, Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson, Nick Watney, Paul Casey, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Hunter Mahan, Sean O’Hair, Camillo Villegas, Ian Poulter, Stewart Cink, Luke Donald, and Dustin Johnson.
Woods credited his ball-striking for the good score. “I really striped it, hit a lot of good shots,” he said. “It's not too often you can say, ‘I shot 65 and only made one putt,’ but that's kind of what I did today. I only made one putt and it was on 9. The rest were either two‑putts or kick‑ins.”
Woods birdied the second, fifth, seventh, and ninth on the front and the 10th, 11th, 13th and 16th on the back side with a bogey on the 18th due to a poor tee shot. He attributed the bad tee shot to residual motion from his old swing that crept back in on the tee.
The shot was a pop up, and Woods had to chip out from the trees. His third shot was on the front of the green. He two-putted from 50 feet for bogey and finished at -7, with a 65, tying his best score in 2010 which was shot at The Barclays where he also had the lead after the first round.
Woods said that loose shots came during the middle part of the round, on the 10th and again at the 12th. “I fixed it and I got it right back,” he explained. “That's something that earlier when I was first working with Sean I couldn't do. But now I know what the fixes are.”
His swing modifications, he believes, are positions he used as a junior golfer. “It's muscle memory. I've been here before,” he added. That is the reason he says he has been able to transition to the adjustments faster than he did with Butch Harmon in the mid 1990s and then again with Hank Haney in the 2000s.
With the swing changes Woods has to understand what a new motion should feel like, and that’s difficult to teach and difficult for most average golfers to understand. They discuss shots they are working on improving. “We don't spend an inordinate amount of time on the range. A lot of it is talking about the move, rehearsing, a lot of shadow swinging and making sure I do it right and just trying to get the patterns,” Woods explained about the process. “It's steady progress. I'm just getting more efficient at it, and I'm understanding, as I said today, after I miss, what my fixes have to be, and that's huge.”
The swing modification has produced another benefit: more distance. “I'd say carry, probably anywhere from six to eight in the air with the driver,” he added. “But it's a higher launch, but it's also flatter at the same time. You get a little bit of roll‑out at the end of it, which I haven't done in a while. So that's been good.”
It’s a long way from Thursday to Sunday in an event with 16 elite golfers, but Woods acknowledged he has won the tournament before and likes to have a victory at the end of the year. “For some reason for me if I can end the year on a high note, it does give you a shot of confidence going into your practice sessions going over and getting ready for the next event after the off‑season because you know what you were doing was working,” he concluded. “If you play well, it does give you a shot of confidence. I've played well in this event, I've won it a few times, and I've gone on to get off to quick starts the following year.”
Sixteen top players are in the field: Bubba Watson, Anthony Kim, Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson, Nick Watney, Paul Casey, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Hunter Mahan, Sean O’Hair, Camilo Villegas, Ian Poulter, Stewart Cink, Luke Donald, Dustin Johnson, McIlroy, McDowell and Woods.
First round leaders
1) Tiger Woods (USA) 65, -7
2) Rory McIlroy (NIR) 66, -6
Graeme McDowell (NIR)
4) Dustin Johnson (USA) 69 -3
Stewart Cink (USA)
Video: Rory McIlroy and his eagle putt.
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