Woods stumbles with chipping in return to golf


By Doug Ferguson ,AP

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — Tiger Woods helped attract a record, raucous crowd to the Phoenix Open on Thursday, the first big event in a week that concludes with the Super Bowl.

They didn’t see much of a game �X at least not from Woods.

In his first appearance at the TPC Scottsdale in 14 years �X and only his second tournament in six months �X Woods couldn’t hit the green with three chip shots and was near the bottom of the leaderboard until two key shots on the back nine salvaged a 2-over 73.

It was the first time in his career that Woods shot over par in his first round of the year. And he already was nine shots behind Ryan Palmer, who opened with a 7-under 64 to build a one-shot lead when play was suspended by darkness.

��This is my second tournament in six months, so I just need tournament rounds like this where I can fight through it, turn it around, grind through it and make adjustments on the fly,�� Woods said.

He was 5 over through 11 holes when Woods hit a 5-iron to a foot for a tap-in eagle on the 13th hole. After making it through the par-3 16th hole, where he twice had to back off shots when someone shouted as he stood over the ball, he hit his best drive of the day that bounded onto the green at the par-4 17th and set up a two-putt birdie.

The fans didn’t seem to mind. They were happy to see golf’s biggest star at their outdoor party for the first time since 2001, back when Woods was No. 1 in the world and headed for an unprecedented sweep of the majors.

The attendance was 118,461 �X more than the Super Bowl will get on Sunday �X and broke the Thursday record at the Phoenix Open by just over 30,000.

What they saw was a player who suddenly has developed grave issues with his short game �X particularly his chipping.

Woods is working with a new swing consultant, Chris Como, who is not in Phoenix this week. He still has trouble taking his game from the practice range to the golf course, which is nothing new. But when he last played, at the Hero World Challenge, what stood out was a series of chips that he either stubbed or bladed.

Two months later, nothing changed.

The focus on Woods quickly shifted from a chipped tooth to simply his chipping.