SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Tiger Woods helped attract a record, raucous crowd to the Phoenix Open on Thursday, the first big event in a week that concludes with the Super Bowl.
They didn’t see much of a game — at least not from Woods.
In his first appearance at the TPC Scottsdale in 14 years — and only his second tournament in six months — Woods couldn’t hit the green with three chip shots and was near the bottom of the leaderboard until two key shots on the back nine salvaged a 2-over 73.
It was the first time in his career that Woods shot over par in his first round of the year. And he already was nine shots behind Ryan Palmer, who opened with a 7-under 64 to build a one-shot lead when play was suspended by darkness.
“This is my second tournament in six months, so I just need tournament rounds like this where I can fight through it, turn it around, grind through it and make adjustments on the fly,” Woods said.
He was 5 over through 11 holes when Woods hit a 5-iron to a foot for a tap-in eagle on the 13th hole. After making it through the par-3 16th hole, where he twice had to back off shots when someone shouted as he stood over the ball, he hit his best drive of the day that bounded onto the green at the par-4 17th and set up a two-putt birdie.
The fans didn’t seem to mind. They were happy to see golf’s biggest star at their outdoor party for the first time since 2001, back when Woods was No. 1 in the world and headed for an unprecedented sweep of the majors.
Wiesberger takes 1-shot lead
at Dubai Desert Classic
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Bernd Wiesberger made seven birdies on his last 10 holes Thursday to take a one-shot lead after the first round of the Dubai Desert Classic.
The 29-year-old Austrian took full advantage of the good playing conditions at the Emirates Golf Club to shoot a bogey-free 8-under 64. He made five straight birdies from the 13th hole before finishing with a par.
“I struggled with my putting early on, I didn’t even get to the hole,” Wiesberger said. “Once I got the pace right on the greens, which was a bit slower than I expected it, then it went nicely.”
Lee Westwood and Nicolas Colsaerts were among four players tied for second, along with American Peter Uihlein and Andy Sullivan.
Rory McIlroy was another shot back after a bogey on his last hole. He was tied with six other players, including defending champion Stephen Gallacher.
“It’s a decent score,” McIlroy said. “I didn’t hit a fairway until the 17th, which was my eighth hole, but I scored well for those holes. I can’t complain with 66 to start. You’re not going to get the course any easier out there today.”
Uihlein was 8 under through 13 holes, but finished with four pars and a bogey on the 17th.
The dropped shot came after he hit a chip shot short of the green and then failed to get up and down.
“I just got too cute on the 17th. It happens,” Uihlein said. “But it was nice to finish with a good par on 18.”
Henrik Stenson started with a disappointing 70, while Sergio Garcia was way behind after a 75.