Tiger Woods made a disastrous start to his opening round at the Memorial Tournament in Ohio on Thursday as the 14-time major winner’s struggles continued.
Starting on the back nine, Woods mis-fired three bogeys in his opening four holes and double-bogeyed the 18th before recovering to post a one-over-par total of 73, tied for 84th.
The 172nd ranked Woods, playing for only the second time since his return at the Masters, is making changes to his swing and was sticking to them regardless.
“I was just trying to stay committed to what we’re working on, to what we’re doing,” he said. “I hit it awful, yeah. So what? I was going to go through this phase and stick with it, keep sticking with it,” said Woods, who has won the competition five times. “And some of the shots I hit were really, really good. But then I also had some really bad shots, too. And we need to work on that.
“Physically, I feel good. Mentally I feel beat up.”
At the top of the leaderboard there is a two-way tie with Bo van Pelt and defending champion Hideki Matsuyama leading the way on eight under par.
Van Pelt was in terrific form on the front nine with a birdie on the third followed up consecutive under par scores from five through to nine.
A blip at 10 was followed by four birdies in the next five holes, while another bogey at 17 meant he shot a 64 first round.
“This course is never easy, I made a couple (of birdies) early which helped,” Van Pelt told the PGA Tour website.
“I have played terrible all year but the last month has been better. I was excited and something good was coming but you never know. I had been hitting some good shots – I love this golf course.”
Matsuyama got his round going with a birdie on the par four second and followed it up with another on three. He hit further birdies on seven and nine before four consecutive from 11 through 14 in a bogey-free round.
Consistency was the key for the Japanese as he hit 13 from 14 fairways and 17 from 18 greens in regulation.
“To be honest with you, up until yesterday I was not hitting the ball very well, I was not chipping very well, I was not putting very well,” Matsuyama said. “And I don’t know what happened overnight. We just caught magic.”
American Jason Dufner and Scot Russell Knox are a further two shots back are posting opening rounds of 66.
Starting on the back nine, Knox was consistent over his first nine holes with three birdies and his form continued with a birdie on the second. Birdies on six, seven and eight saw him climb the leaderboard before a bogey five on the par four ninth saw him drop.
Knox ranked number 77 in the World has yet to win a PGA Tour event but is well placed after the opening round.
The highlight of Dufner’s round was a 59 foot for eagle on the par five 15th, while he also saw another eagle on five. That took him to three under and with the momentum he picked up three more birdies in consecutive holes.
He bogeyed the par five 11th but regained focus to birdie 13 before his monster effort on 15. His round was soured by an ugly double bogey six on the last.
Ken Duke, Ryan Moore, Brendon Todd, Harris English, Kevin Kisner, Swede David Lingmerth, Kyle Reifers and Erik Compton, all share fifth place on five under par.
Jordan Spieth and Justin Rose are in the mix tied for 12th at four under.