Tiger gets lot of cheers, just not for his golf

The rust everyone expected from Tiger Woods at the Masters, where he tied for fourth in his first competition in five months, showed up at the Quail Hollow Cham

Updated: April 30, 2010 12:19 IST
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Charlotte, North Carolina :The rust everyone expected from Tiger Woods at the Masters, where he tied for fourth in his first competition in five months, showed up at the Quail Hollow Championship on Thursday.

He went seven tee shots without hitting a fairway. He hit into the water on consecutive holes, the first one leading to double bogey. And right when it looked as if he might limit the damage, Woods flew the green at No. 9 on his final hole for one last bogey.

Woods wound up with a 2-over 74, ending his streak of 21 consecutive rounds at par or better dating to last September. It was his worst opening round at a regular U.S. PGA Tour event since he shot 75 at The Players Championship three years ago.

It left him nine shots behind Bo Van Pelt and outside the cut line going into the second round.

What did he plan to fix?

"Not a damn thing," Woods said. "I'm just going to go hang it up today and come out tomorrow."

Suddenly, the goal is to stick around longer than two days at Quail Hollow, where he won two years ago and has never finished worse than 11th in his four previous starts.

"I had a lot of issues out there trying to figure out where my balls were going to go," Wood said. "I hit a bunch of balls left, I hit a bunch of balls right, hit a few down the middle. And that was about it."

If he wants to make more eye contact with the fans, this was the day. Woods was among them for so much of his round. And if he wanted to keep toning down his emotions, this was ideal practice, too. Woods kept his language clean, the only four-letter word coming at the 16th hole when he screamed, "Fore!"

Beyond the golf, Quail Hollow was expected to be another hurdle in his return to golf after tawdry affairs that make him an easy target for tabloids and talk-show hosts.

But Quail Hollow was on her best behavior.

This is the first tournament for Woods with open ticket sales, and while the gallery is always strong enough to make this tournament feel close to a major, it sold out quickly after Woods announced he would play.

There were no hecklers. A couple of single-engine planes flew overhead, none carrying banners. Uniform police officers were scattered among the gallery, yet there were no incidents.

Woods didn't notice one way or the other. He kept his head down, even after a few of his good shots. He was asked after the round if it was therapeutic to at least be out among so much positive energy.

"I'll tell you what, I would like to say 'Yes,'" Woods said. "I was struggling so bad today, I didn't know which way I was going to go, whether I was going left or right. I didn't really hear much, to be honest with you. I was struggling so bad out there. I was just trying to piece together a round to keep myself in the tournament. As of right now, I'm only six back of second, and one good round tomorrow can get me right back in it."

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