Tiger's Putter Lets Him Down On Thursday

Tiger opts for new irons to conquer Wells Fargo

Woods won the Wells Fargo Championship in 2007, and finished no worse than 11th in his first four appearances here, but this is his first time at Quail Hollow since 2012. Staring down Woods on a final day was a golfing nightmare and, while his invincible aura may have faded, the thought of a Tiger back-nine charge on Sunday is as much an unpleasant one for his rivals as it is a potential thrill for fans.

"I would have taken that score before I went out there", he said of his 68. "We're all going to be close", Woods said. Good enough that it could have propelled him near the top of the leaderboard.

He stands six shots behind John Peterson, who ended his round late in the day by making back-to-back eagles, first holing a bunker shot from 56 feet on the par-5 seventh and then holing his second shot from 103 yards on the par-4 eighth en route to his 65.

Woods returned in Charlotte after a standard post-Masters recess and played nine holes on Tuesday with Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau and Dru Love ahead of this week's Wells Fargo Championship. "I was just hoping I could walk without pain and now I'm out here playing against these guys", Woods said. "If I just make a few putts, I should be two or three under par, which is fine". I made a bogey there at 10. I'm busy trying to prepare and practice myself and get ready.

Sound golf math from Woods and an accurate assessment. The misses off the tee were not big.

Turns out Love kind of set up the whole pairing, something he explained Tuesday afternoon while walking away from the clubhouse, through the player parking lot to the driving range after the round.

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Throughout the Florida swing, Woods made up for a lack of control off the tee with his short game. Woods has struggled to put all the pieces together so far this year.

Woods started slow but made his first birdie of the day on the par-5 7th hole, and quickly followed that with a 28-foot putt that fell for a second-straight circle on the scorecard.

Dogged by injury and scandal, it has been 13 years since Woods last triumphed at Augusta and it appeared as if many of those teeing it up at the year's first major had forgotten what a ruthless competitor he was back then.

"I threw my clubs in the closet for about 10 days, got away from the game", Woods said. "That's for sure. It's longer, but it's also more hard". Playing his first tournament since switching from Nike irons to TaylorMades, Woods displayed few issues with the transition, hitting 13 of 18 greens in regulation and carving several shots in to hard hole locations. He entered the tournament ranked 8th on Tour in strokes gained: putting. "I'm seeing speeds and velocities I haven't seen since my early 20s".

On paper, Thursday's even-par 71 looks right in line with everything he's done through six previous starts this season. Woods missed a great birdie try on the 14th hole when he drove into a green-side bunker and blasted out to four feet.

"If he putts OK, he shoots in the 60s and we're right where we need to be", LaCava said.

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