Woods make solid start at windy Sherwood, Choi leads

Saturday, 3 December 2011 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

THOUSAND OAKS, California (Reuters) :Tiger Woods put himself in position to end a victory drought of more than two years by moving into a tie for second place in Thursday’s wind-buffeted first round at the Chevron World Challenge.

Seeking his first win since the 2009 Australian Masters, Woods fired a three-under-par 69 on a difficult day for scoring at Sherwood Country Club as swirling winds gusted up to 35 mph across the Santa Monica Mountains.

Tournament host Woods ended the day level with playing partner and fellow American Steve Stricker while South Korean KJ Choi took charge with a superb seven-birdie 66.

Americans Nick Watney, 2009 champion Jim Furyk and Rickie Fowler carded matching 71s and were the only other players in the elite field of 18 who shot sub-par scores in the opening round.

“Anything under par was a good round today with the wind up,” former world number one Woods told reporters after mixing six birdies with three bogeys. “It was tough out there.

“You don’t know which way it (the wind) is coming from, then you have the intensity changes on top of that. The wind was dancing all over the place.”

Asked if he was satified with his start, Woods replied: “Absolutely. To be in the red (under par) was a good day today.”

Woods, a four-times champion here, made a fast start on a glorious autumn morning, coolly sinking a five-footer at the par-four first and hitting a wedge to two feet for a tap-in putt at the par-five second to birdie the opening two holes.

He drained a 20-foot birdie putt at the fourth, where he struck a superb approach from the left rough, and very nearly eagled the par-five fifth after reaching the green in two.

His first putt from 18 feet lipped out of cup, sparking cries of “Whoah” and “Man” from the gallery crammed around the green, before he knocked in the birdie putt to get to four under.


After Woods teed off at sixth, the winds strengthened but his only mistake on the front nine came at the par-four ninth where he duffed his second shot from the left rough and advanced the ball only five yards.

From there, he did well to salvage a bogey five to reach the turn in three-under 33.

Though Woods went on to birdie the par-five 13th, bogeys at the 15th and 16th stalled his momentum.

Stricker, who drained a 40-foot birdie putt at the last to join Woods three under, applauded his playing partner’s form on a tricky day at Sherwood.

“I think he’s playing great,” said the American world number six. “He’s striking the ball so solidly. It was tough out there today but he looks like the Tiger of old.”

Renowned wind player Choi, however, delivered the day’s most impressive round after setting out with five consecutive birdies in dazzling autumn sunshine.

He reached the turn in five-under 31, and picked up further shots at the 13th and 16th while making his only mistake of the day with a three-putt bogey at the par-three 15th.

“It was very windy out there but I play well in the wind with my low ball and low draw,” the ever-smiling Choi said.

“I played very well today. The back nine was more difficult and my mindset was just to make pars. I tried to be patient and I think my strategy worked well.”