The gettin’ was good early Thurday at Carnoustie.
How else could you explain low scores from the likes of Kevin Kisner, Zander Lombard, Erik Van Rooyen and assorted other unaccomplished players?
Tiger Woods went late and while it was still calm when he started, the winds came up and a firm-and-fast links course started to turn treacherous.
Woods drew major attention when he arrived at the course sporting kinesthetic tape on the back of his neck.
“It’s no big deal, better than my back hurting,” Woods said of his sore neck, caused by what he said was a not-so-great pillow at his accommodations for the week.
It didn’t keep him from a fast start. He stuck a wedge within six feet at the first hole, made birdie to get his day going. He picked up another at four after a great approach left him inside six feet for his second birdie.
He missed a great opportunity at the easily reachable par five sixth and that would set the stage for a tough 12 holes coming home as winds began to pick up.
The inward nine was a pure struggle with the wind picking up and the course playing lightning fast.
“I played better than what the score indicates because I had two 8-irons into both par 5s today, and I end up with par on both of those,” Woods said after signing for an even-par 71. “If I just clean up those two holes and play them the way I’m supposed to play them with an 8-iron in my hand, I think I’d probably have the best round in the afternoon wave.”
While some players attacked the course with drivers off the tee, Woods took a very conservative approach.
“I’m just playing to my spots,” he said. “And if the wind allows me to be more aggressive, then, obviously, I get it down there. But today with the wind coming out of the south, southeast, it didn’t allow that. Granted, it did change a little bit out of the west at the end, but it’s just hard to control that ball on the green, especially when it’s rolling about 100 yards. It’s just really hard.”
Woods problems on the inward nine started with a pot bunker at the 10th, a three-putt green at the 13th. Another pot bunker at 15 handed him his third bogey of the final nine holes.
At day’s end, his scorecard read: 34-37–71. Twenty-nine putts.
Woods will got out early Friday but rain was in the forecast with possible stronger wind conditions.