Tiger Woods was hoping for a fast start Thursday in the first round of the Wells Fargo Championship at hot and humid Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C. It didn't happen.
Returning to competition for the first time since the Masters three weeks ago, he bogeyed the 410-yard, par-4 first hole, missing the green with his approach shot and failing to convert a seven-foot putt.
"There goes that idea," Woods joked afterward.
Despite the shaky start, he regrouped to shoot a 1-under-par 71 and is tied for 56th, six strokes behind pacesetters Ryan Moore, Stewart Cink and Webb Simpson. Woods, who won this event in 2007, has now shot par or better in 15 of 19 rounds at Quail Hollow.
"You try and build and find a rhythm in the round," he said. "It's a little bit different than being at home, obviously, and I found it probably by the third hole."
A late starter on a windless afternoon with Geoff Ogilvy and Simpson, Woods rebounded from the opening bogey to birdie the 178-yard, par-3 second hole, where he poured in a 23-foot putt. After a long two-putt par at No. 3, he saved par from the left greenside bunker at the par-4 fourth, then missed an eight-foot birdie putt at the par-5 fifth.
At the 235-yard, par-3 sixth, Woods pulled his tee shot into the left bunker, blasted six feet from the cup and missed the par putt.
Once again, he bounced back quickly with a birdie at the 532-yard, par-5 seventh hole, where he hooked his drive way left into the trees and was fortunate to have a clear shot to the green. Tiger hit a 6-iron short-left of the green, hit a nice flop shot eight feet beyond the hole, and buried the birdie putt.
After a perfect drive at the short, 334-yard, par-4 eighth hole, leaving Woods 52 yards to the pin, he hit a sand wedge 28 feet below the hole and narrowly missed the birdie attempt.
Woods pushed his tee shot way right at the 491-yard, par-4 ninth, dropping his club in disgust. He tried to punch a low second shot under trees, but the ball traveled less than 20 yards and stayed in the rough. Still left with 186 yards to the pin, he hit his third shot 27 feet past the hole and two-putted for a bogey to make the turn in 1-over 37.
Tiger hit a good drive at the 591-yard, par-5 10th hole and flushed his second shot from 250 yards with a 3-iron. The shot was right on line with the flagstick but came up just short of the putting surface and rolled back down a slope.
After receiving a free drop from a drainage cover, Tiger was confronted with a tight lie up a steep slope and had little green to work with. There were also two sprinklers in his line. Woods hit a bump-and-run shot into the bank and the ball released 24 feet past the hole. From there, he two-putted for a disappointing par.
"You can't miss it right, and I missed it right," said Woods.
Tiger gave himself good birdie chances at the par-4 11th and 12th holes, missing from 15 and 18 feet, respectively.
At the 209-yard, par-3 13th, he rolled in a 22-foot birdie putt.
Woods gave himself another good look for birdie at the short par-4 14th, but couldn't convert from 14 feet. A poor drive into the left trees put him in scramble mode at the par-4 15th, but he was equal to the challenge. Tiger came up 25 yards short of the green with his second shot, then hit a nice sand wedge three feet from the cup to save par.
At the par-4 16th, Woods drove into the right fairway bunker, then came up just short of the green in two. Again, he hit a nice sand wedge to within a foot of the hole and salvaged par.
The par-3 17th hole, which has been a challenge for all players through the years, has been softened slightly with a new front-left tee. It played 167 yards over water Thursday, and Woods knocked an 8-iron right at the pin, the ball releasing 14 feet by the hole. He took no chances with the speedy downhill putt and two-putted for a par.
The par-4 18th hole is flanked by a water hazard down the entire left side, but Woods found the fairway with his tee shot. He pulled his second shot and was lucky to stay dry, his ball hanging up just left of the green in the rough.
Tiger took advantage of the good break and chipped just inside of four feet and was able to save par, playing the back nine in 2-under 34.
On the day, he hit eight of 14 fairways and 12 of 18 greens in regulation, and used 29 putts.
Although he played the four par-5s in 2-under, he hopes to improve on them in the second round.
"I've just got to play the par-5s better," Woods said.
Tiger will tee off on the 10th hole Friday at 8 a.m. ET and will again play with Ogilvy and Simpson.