Tiger Woods loves the Old Course.
It doesn’t always love him back.
Thursday was one of those difficult days — far more tumultuous than the mild weather — as Woods caught a bad break right away then struggled to find his touch on the surprisingly sluggish greens, shooting a six-over-par 78 that puts him in peril of missing the cut at the British Open.
“Well, probably highest score as I could have shot,” he said after a round that included two bogeys and two double-bogeys in the first seven holes. “Didn’t get off to a great start. Hit a good tee shot down 1, ended up right in the middle of a fresh divot.”
The combination of an imperfect shot out of that divot, and a wall of wind caused him to one-hop his next shot into the Swilcan Burn that cuts across the course.
That was a bad omen for a player who has won two of his three Claret jugs at St. Andrews. He’s one of only two players to win multiple Opens there, along with Jack Nicklaus.
Woods had multiple three-putts and frequently came up short of the hole.
“I struggled with hitting the putts hard enough,” he said. “They looked faster than what they were putting, and I struggled with it.”
He’s in a predicament for Friday, because he has to shoot a low round and the weather can change at any moment and make the course significantly more difficult.
“Looks like I’m going to have to shoot 66 tomorrow to have a chance,” he said. “So obviously it has been done. Guys did it today. And that’s my responsibility tomorrow is to go ahead and do it. Need to do it.”
American Cameron Young had a day that was the polar opposite of the one Woods had, shooting a 64. Quite a debut. According to ESPN Stats & Info, that -8 was the lowest score in a player’s first British Open round since 1934.
“I don’t think that I played a perfect round of golf,” Young said. “I think it just kind of — I scored really well. And I think we thought our way around kind of the way you have to out there.”
Meanwhile, Woods didn’t come close to meeting his standards, score-wise, but wasn’t entirely dissatisfied with the way he was striking the ball.
“I didn’t really feel like I hit it that bad but I ended up in bad spots,” Woods said. “Or just had some weird things happen. And just the way it goes. Links is like that. And this golf course is like that. And as I said, I had my chances to turn it around and get it rolling the right way and I didn’t do it.”