The Open: Tiger Woods struggling to make the weekend after opening 78
By Keith Jackson at Royal Portrush
Last Updated: 18/07/19 9:59pm
Tiger Woods admitted he was battling a sore back as he faces the prospect of an early exit from The 148th Open after a seven-over 78 on day one at Royal Portrush.
Woods admitted at his Tuesday press conference that he was not happy with his long game heading into the final major of the year having not played since the US Open last month, and he managed only one birdie against six bogeys and one double-bogey at the short sixth.
The Masters champion appeared to be uncomfortable from the moment he pulled his opening tee shot into the left rough and grimaced to raise concerns that his back problems had resurfaced - concerns which he later confirmed before he headed off for treatment.
Woods ploughed on and started with four good pars before missing a 12-foot par putt at the fifth. He spilled two shots at the next after going long and left from the tee, and his first pitch didn't make it to the putting surface.
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A scrappy bogey six followed at the seventh before he dropped two more shots over the next three holes to leave his Open hopes in tatters, and his mood soured further when he dropped to seven under with another mistake at 14.
Woods raised a wry smile when he holed a good putt for birdie at the 15th, but a closing bogey at 18 summed up his round and he admitted he was in pain before vowing to be back at the first tee early on Friday.
"I'm sore, yes. I'm sore," he said. "I'm just not moving as well as I'd like and, unfortunately, you've got to be able to move, and especially under these conditions. You need to shape the golf ball, and I didn't do it. I didn't shape the golf ball at all. Everything was left-to-right, and I wasn't hitting very solidly.
"My warm-up wasn't very good and I had a hard time moving and just trying to piece together a swing that will get me around a golf course. And then all of a sudden, I made probably one of the best pars you've ever seen on the first today. That was a pretty good start, but it was kind of downhill from there.
"It's just the way it is. It's just Father Time and some procedures I've had over the time. Just the way it's going to be. As I said, one of the reasons why I'm playing less tournaments this year is that I can hopefully prolong my career, and be out here for a little bit longer.
"But playing at this elite level is a completely different deal. You've got to be spot on. These guys are too good, there are too many guys that are playing well and I'm just not one of them.
"I have to be realistic about my expectations and hopefully peaking at the right time. I peaked at Augusta well. And hopefully I can peak a few more times this year."