Tiger Woods runs out of steam on comeback

Shane Lowry leads Irish challenge at Torrey Pines as Tiger struggles on back nine

Tiger Woods hit from the rough at Torrey Pines.

Tiger Woods hit from the rough at Torrey Pines.

 

Tiger Woods produced the good, the bad and the ugly in his first PGA Tour start in almost 18 months on Thursday while Olympic champion Justin Rose set the early pace in the opening round of the Farmers Insurance Open.

Back in the familiar surroundings of Torrey Pines outside San Diego where he has won eight tournaments as a professional, Woods scrambled well on his front nine and made two early birdies after the turn before badly losing steam on the way to a four-over 76 on the South Course.

While Rose eagled two of the four par-fives on the easier North layout to move one ahead of the field with a sparkling seven-under 65, Woods dropped six shots in six holes from the 12th to end the day a distant 11 strokes off the pace.

It was the 41-year-old’s highest opening round to begin a PGA Tour season since he turned professional in late 1996.

Woods, who was sidelined by back pain and a series of surgeries, had not competed in a regular PGA Tour event since August 2015 and is also adjusting to new equipment this week following his switch to TaylorMade clubs.

Shane Lowry endured a rollercoaster start to his season, mixing the rough with the smooth as he struggled to get to grips with his game. Making his first appearance of the year as part of a month-long stretch on the PGA Tour’s east coast swing, Lowry’s game showed plenty of rust on the North Course.

Having bogeyed the first two holes, where he failed to find the fairway and needed five putts, Lowry then dumped his tee shot into the greenside bunker on the third and failed to get up-and-down.

Three over par, standing on the fourth tee, Lowry must have already been harbouring thoughts of a missed cut and needed something to click. It did.

The world number 50, who won’t play his first event in Europe until the BMW Championship at Wentworth in May, would birdie five of his next six holes to turn the round on its head. Lowry hit five single putts and chipped in during that hot streak and despite three-putting the par five 10th for par, when he picked up another shot at the 11th Lowry found himself just one shot off the early lead.

A wild tee shot on the 13th led to a double bogey, and yet another three putt at the 15th cost him another shot. But Lowry hit back with a birdie at the next and parred his way home to finish on one under. Padraig Harrington (Sout Course) and Seamus Power (North Course) both finished on two over.

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