Sports

Woods returns to old putter, shoots solid 68, four behind leaders at Northern Trust

V Krishnaswamy August 21 | Updated on August 21, 2020

Harris English leads; four-time Major winner, Brooks Koepka, withdraws due to injury

Two-time FedExCup champion Tiger Woods, seeking a record-breaking 83rd PGA Tour title, opened with a solid three-under 68 that placed him T-30 as he began the FedExCup campaign at No. 49 as the TPC Boston hosted The Northern Trust for the first time with the start of the play-offs in Boston.

Four players, led by Harris English, shared the lead. The others were Kevin Streelman, Cameron Davis of Australia and Russell Henley, who finished with a tap-in eagle. They shot 64 each.

Four-time Major winner, Brooks Koepka, withdrew before the round with an injury, and the best among the Top-5 in the FedExCup standings was Justin Thomas, who like Woods shot 68, while Collin Morikawa had a rare off day.

Phil Mickelson is on the bubble, as only the top 70 advance to next week’s BMW Championship, shot 74 and could for the first time miss the BMW.

Also, Woods got back the putter he has used in 14 of his 15 Major wins after putting it aside for the PGA Championship two weeks ago.

Looks comfortable

Woods needed just 29 putts. But also he hit the ball well and the longest putt was just 16 feet on the par-3 third, he looked comfortable. It also meant he needs to get closer to the pin on the greens to have reasonable birdie chances. Armed with a 68, those could come in next three days.

Also, the round would have been better if he had not had the closing bogey. Starting on the 10th, he had a bogey on 13th and a birdie on 18th for an even par first nine. He birdied third, fourth, seventh and eighth in a nice run but dropped a shot on ninth.

The other point of some discussion was that Woods first used some oil on his neck to warm up but later felt hot and so used a bottle of ice water to cool himself. That seemed to have lifted his game, as he played a nine-hole stretch from the par-5 18th to the par-3 eighth in 5 under.

Playing only his third event and ninth competitive round since the return of the Tour in mid-June, Woods seemed content with his 3-under 68 which left him four off the leading foursome.

Star performers

English played his first four holes in 4-under with par-eagle-birdie-birdie and never took his foot off the pedal. Last week he had a 64 in the first round Wyndham Championship.

Davis, after four consecutive missed cuts on Tour this season, finished inside the top 15 in two of his last three starts.

Davis in his FedExCup Playoffs debut, made eight birdies and English is seeking sixth consecutive top-25 finish. Streelman has not won on the PGA Tour win since 2014 and Henley had a birdie-eagle finish 17 and 18.

There were other star performers too, Sebastian Munoz who opened with seven consecutive birdies on way to a 65 and Ian Poulter (66), who had a great day on the greens as he seeks his first Tour Championship berthin the 13th FedExCup Playoffs .

Of the top 11 players who were separated by one shot after the first round, five of them began the week outside the top 70, with Bubba Watson on the bubble at No. 66.

Thomas, the No. 1 seed, opened with a 68. Morikawa, in his first start since winning the PGA Championship, twice made bogey on par 5s and had a 71, leaving him outside the cut line going into Friday.

There was one more question Woods had to deal with and that was the possible busy stretch of golf he has with maybe even four starts in five weeks beginning this week. But Woods said, “I’ve got to get to Atlanta (for the TourChampionship) first. I’m not in.” .

Published on August 21, 2020

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