Woods trails by seven
Tiger Woods is seven off the pace set by a quartet that included practice partner Arjun Atwal at the AT&T National.
Tiger Woods carded a disappointing three-over-par 73 in the first round of the AT&T National in Pennsylvania on Thursday to find himself seven shots off the pace set by a quartet that included his practice partner Arjun Atwal.
Atwal, a US-based Indian who has played practice rounds with the world number one in Florida for the past five years, posted seven birdies in his four-under 66 to lead the way along with Australian Jason Day and Americans Nick Watney and Joe Ogilvie.
Woods dropped four shots over the last five holes – including a double-bogey on 17 after his tee shot rolled back off the green and into a pond – to leave himself with plenty to do on Friday just to make the cut at the Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square.
The 34-year-old, winless in five PGA Tour events since his five-month hiatus from the game, was left to rue a poor day with the putter.
“I hit it good all day and just let my round get away from me,” said the defending champion, who took 30 putts in his round.
He added in a televised interview: “I just putted awful, really. My speed was good, but nothing was going in.
“It was a very frustrating day on the greens, especially how good I was driving it. I was driving it on a string all day.”
Atwal, in contrast, was delighted with his day’s work.
“The golf course is perfect,” said the Indian. “It’s in absolute perfect shape, tough. Four under I think is a great score for me or anybody on this golf course, and I’ll take it every day.”
Asked what he has learned from playing practice rounds with Woods, Atwal replied:
“Just everything. Just the whole work ethic to how a person who has won 71 times still works harder than any person out here when he’s home. It’s unbelievable.
“And also just he’s always helped me if I have any questions about short game or whatever it is. He’s always been there.”
The leading quartet finished a shot ahead of Sweden’s Carl Pettersson and Americans John Mallinger, Brian Gay, Michael Letzig, Brett Quigley and Ryan Moore.
Former US Open winner Jim Furyk and English duo Justin Rose and Greg Owen carded 69s to tie for 19th place.
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