Tiger Woods shot a 65 and shares the lead with Rickie Fowler after round one of the TOUR Championship.
Woods finished his day at East Lake with one bogey offset by four birdies and a final-hole eagle to sign for the day’s co-low round.
After his round, Woods, holding the 20th spot in top-30 field in Atlanta, took questions from the media. Here are four of the more interesting ones:
How good was 18?
WOODS: 18 was nice. I hammered that drive up the left side, and it was nice to see it not in the rough.
I hit 5-wood there. I had to try and not have — in order for me to get it there, I had to not have my 5-wood kick up in the air, and so once it hit its peak, I knew it was good and I started walking after it, and it ended up on the green and I had a good look at eagle.
It took forever for that putt to start breaking, grain coming down off the left. But once it snagged it, it was going straight right.
COMPARING TO 62 AT BMW
Considering the course and the conditions, how does this compare with the 62 at Aronimink?
WOODS: This was by far better than the 62 at Aronimink. Conditions were soft there.
This is — it’s hard to get the ball closer. There’s so much chase in it. If you drive the ball in the rough, you know you can’t get the ball close. The Bermuda rough, you just can’t control it. It puts a premium on driving and puts a premium on allowing for a little bit of chase on some of these greens.
When I had some good looks, I went right after it, and otherwise I played pretty conservatively.
DRIVER CHANGE PAYING OFF
It seems like the driver change you made a few weeks ago with the shaft and the loft is really paying off, delivering some accuracy. What’s the trade-off on distance, and are you okay with that?
WOODS: Yeah, well, if I hit it normal, I hit it just as far. And so that’s to me like 300 yards in the air. But if — the neat thing about this one is that if I miss it and spin it a little bit, those spinners stay in play instead of chasing off on me, and I can turn this ball.
Like the tee shot I hit down 18, I didn’t have that shot earlier with — not enough loft. I turned it, my spin rate would be so low that it wouldn’t stay in the air. And so, yeah, if I hit controlled shots, they’re in play and they’re shorter.
But if I go ahead and step up and launch one, I’m just as far. The neat thing is I don’t have to swing it as hard to hit the ball as far. And so it puts a little less toll on my body.
I don’t have to have my speed up there at 120, 121, 122 miles an hour to carry it 305, 310 like I did before.
SEEKING FIRST WIN
Was your objective to win at the start of this year?
WOODS: Yeah, my objective was to win a golf tournament and give myself plenty of looks at doing it. But in order to do that, I have to play. And I hadn’t played in a while.
But the objective is to always win, but how am I going to do it when I had no game at the beginning of the year? And somehow I’ve got to find a way to piece it together and give myself a chance with what little game I had.
At the beginning of the year I didn’t have much game. You saw it. But I was playing again, so it was a start.