Tiger Woods shot a scrambling even-par 72 on Thursday in his 2013 debut in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship at Abu Dhabi Golf Club in the United Arab Emirates. He ended the first round in a tie for 32nd.
Woods carded four birdies and four bogeys in the tough, windy conditions, but struggled on his back nine, hitting only one fairway in regulation. That came at the tough, 456-yard, par-4 ninth hole, which he three-putted for a bogey.
"It's a good score in these conditions, period," Woods said afterward. "Just trying to shoot under par somehow and didn't quite do it. I made a mistake at the last, but it's tough out there. These fairways are tiny to hit, and it seems like every hole is a cross-wind hole."
Ranked second in the world, Tiger was grouped with top-ranked Rory McIlroy and Martin Kaymer, as the trio starting early in cool conditions off the 10th tee. Woods used driver on the 582-yard, par-5 hole but found the right fairway bunker. He hit his second shot into the deep right rough, then gouged his third shot over the back of the green. Pitching up a steep slope, Woods left his fourth shot 20 feet short of the cup but rolled in the putt for a nice par-save.
At the 417-yard, par-4 11th, Tiger hit a fairway wood in the fairway and followed with a nice approach from 121 yards, the ball stopping eight feet from the flag. Woods hit a good putt but lipped out his birdie attempt.
After a long two-putt par at the 193-yard, par-3 12th, Woods encountered trouble at the 414-yard, par-4 13th. He pulled his drive into a sandy waste area on the left, and the ball rolled up near a bush. That led to his first bogey of the season, as he just missed a 20-foot par putt.
The weather warmed up and so did Woods. He parred the 490-yard, par-4 14th hole -- the longest par-4 on the course -- then recorded his first birdie of the year at the 178-yard, par-3 15th, sinking a 45-foot downhill putt from the back-left fringe.
A poor drive at the 475-yard, par-4 16th hole caught the right fairway bunker, but Tiger hit a nice recovery shot and two-putted for a par. At the 483-yard, par-4 17th, Woods split the fairway with his driver, then punched his second shot from 153 yards about seven feet from the hole and converted the birdie putt.
Tiger pounded a long drive at the 567-yard, par-5 18th hole, where the green is guarded by water. His approach shot was even better, as he knocked a 3-wood onto the green from 255 yards, the ball stopping 25 feet above the cup. He two-putted easily for his third birdie in four holes and made the turn in 2-under 34.
His breezier back nine was a different story. Tiger topped his tee shot at the 405-yard, par-4 first hole into the left rough. From there, he hit a nice second shot about 70 yards short of the green and wedged to eight feet but missed his par putt.
Woods also bogeyed the par-5 second hole, missing the green to the left from 136 yards with his third shot. Faced with a tough, downhill chip from thick rough, he nearly sunk his fourth shot, but the ball ran seven feet past the cup and he was unable to save par.
At the 439-yard, par-4 third hole, Tiger pulled his drive into the sandy waste area on the left. His long second shot clipped a palm fern and wound up in the right greenside bunker. Woods hit a nice bunker shot six feet from the hole and made the putt to avoid a third consecutive bogey.
Tiger two-putted the par-3 fourth hole from 40 feet for a par, then hit a nice approach shot from the left rough at the 469-yard, par-4 fifth hole and two-putted from 20 feet. Woods made another scrambling par at the par-4 sixth, where he hit his shot into the sand and trees on the left. His second shot finished just short of the green in the right rough, where he hit a beautiful flop shot four feet beyond the hole and converted the par putt.
The grinding continued at the 177-yard, par-3 seventh hole. Tiger pulled his drive into the left bunker and blasted eight feet past the cup. He poured in the putt to save par. At the 597-yard, par-5 eighth, Woods punched a nice third shot from just under 100 yards about 10 feet below the hole and stroked in the uphill birdie putt.
Woods, McIlroy and Kaymer will play together again Friday. They are scheduled to tee off at 3:05 a.m. ET (12:05 p.m. local time).
"I don't think it's supposed to blow as hard tomorrow," Woods said. "It's still going to be difficult out there. The rough is deep enough where it's tough to get to the green. It's imperative to get the ball in the fairway. Not a lot of guys are going to go low today."