Tiger Woods stumbled to a two-over par 74 in his opening round on Thursday at the Players Championship, nine strokes off the pace at the $9.5 million US PGA event.
Woods, a 14-time major champion chasing the record 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus, opened on the 10th hole with a bogey, finding a greenside bunker and coming up short on a 10-foot par putt.
The former World No. 1, now seventh in the rankings, answered with a birdie from nine feet at the par-3 13th and responded to saving a bogey from 30 feet at the par-4 15th with a 13-foot birdie at the infamous island green 17th hole.
But Woods staggered around the turn with bogeys at the 18th and first and a birdie at the par-5 second negated by a bogey at the par-3 third before he righted the ship and parred his way back to the clubhouse from there.
"It wasn't certainly the most positive start," Woods said. "Any kind of momentum that I would build, I would shoot myself in the foot on the very next hole. Just one of those days.
"I didn't get a lot out of that round. It should have been probably 1- or 2-under par."
Woods, who once mastered the par-5 holes with long drives and deadly putting, managed one birdie and three pars on them at the TPC Sawgrass course in round one.
"I don't know. For some reason it has just been one of those weird deals," Woods said. "Out here you have to take care of the par-5s. I haven't done a very good job of it lately. I certainly need to do a better job of that."
The 36-year-old star, who snapped a 17-month win drought with a victory at Bay Hill in March, came to the Players after his eighth career missed cut at Quail Hollow and was in danger of failing to reach the weekend once again.
Woods won the 2001 Players but has struggled at the course in recent years, withdrawing last year after nine holes with left knee pain and in 2010 he withdrew with 12 holes remaining in the final round due to a neck injury.
This time, Woods was fit but unable to post a score among the leaders.
"I just didn't score. I hit decent shots in there and just got some of the worst lies," Woods said. "It was frustrating in the sense that my good shots ended up in bad spots and obviously my bad shots ended up in worse spots."
Woods has adopted a wait and work attitude about returning to top form after nagging injuries and swing changes.
"Just be patient with it. Just keep plugging along," Woods said. "In the last few months, I've put together some good rounds, won a couple tournaments, so it's there. I just need to continue doing it."