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Unlike last week, Woods was clearly in full competitive mode here. He stabbed a short iron shot from the bunker at the 14th to within six feet of the flag, then calmly watched it spin back another 30 feet before a routine two-putt par. He finished his first nine at 2 under, then made bogeys at Nos. 2 and 7. An 8-foot birdie putt on the final hole put him back in the red.

“It would have been very disappointing and frustrating to end up at even par as well as I played today,” Woods said.

“That was the goal today. Got off to a quick start and all of a sudden, I felt like I could shoot something in the 60s. Didn’t quite happen,” he added.


Then again, given how last week ended …

“Everyone has bad weeks,” Woods said.

True, but he’s strung together nearly eight months’ worth by now. Woods said earlier this week that as far as his golf game is concerned, he expected to hit the skids at the start of the season. Instead, he got off to a fast start at the Masters with a tie for fourth. Ever since, he has been battling rough patches, especially with the putter. If nothing else, it’s made him more likely to focus on the small victories, such as when that tee shot on 14 found a bunker instead of the treacherous fescue grass all around it.

The last question Woods faced Thursday was about whether the delay affected him. Given the state of things, most expected he used the extra time to shoehorn in some more practice.

“I got to eat three breakfasts,” Woods said, the wide grin returning, “so that’s always good.”


Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jlitke(at)