Tiger struggles in tournament return

After the worst of starts to the Quail Hollow Championship, an exasperated Tiger Woods wasn't in the mood to work on his recalcitrant golf swing.

"Not a damn thing," he said, when asked what he'd try to fix after an opening 74.

"I'm not going to the range today. Hell with it. I'm just going to go hang it up today and come out tomorrow."

He was resigned more than angry, at least publicly.

It was that kind of day; a day which served to remind that he'd been gone from the scene for a very long time and beside being rusty, has the weight of a disintegrating marriage on his mind.

Not that anything's ever been beyond him, but it must be said that Tiger Woods looked -- at least on this day -- a long way from being back as a winner.

It was his worst opening round at a non-major since the 2007 Players Championship.

"I just didn't have it today," he said, "It wasn't the driver, it was everything. I had a two-way miss going, which was great, all day."

The odd thing was that his round began with such promise on a cool, dewy morning.

Not a heckler to be heard -- indeed, his name was announced at 7.40 a.m. to an enthusiastic round of applause -- and a fairway splitting drive set up a straight-forward birdie on the par-5 10th, his opening hole.

"Yeah, it actually felt pretty good after that start," he said.

But it all went pear-shaped from there.

"Unfortunately my second hole I hit a quick hook, then the next hole I hit another hook off the tee, and I kind of stuck a couple in the ground after that, too."

What plagued Woods -- as it did during the Masters and, really, as it has for several years -- was the right-to-left shot. He struggles mightily to hit draws.

Invariably, he scales back to a 3-wood to try to hit draws from the tee but they're too often either been hooks or blocks.

In the past, he's been able to get away with such mistakes because his short game's stellar but after a spiffy up-and-down par save on his second hole, he bogeyed the next, missed birdie chances on two of the next three and then things really went bad.

Woods found the water on the exacting par-3 17th, leading to a double-bogey, then drove it into the creek on the 18th. Another bogey followed.

On the first tee -- his 10th hole of the day -- he once again hit it into the forest way right of the fairway bnt looked like salvaging par after threading a low shot through the pines. But he had too much weight on a chip and missed a seven footer for par.

On the second tee, Woods found himself at 4-over and close to DFL on the leaderboard. But he birdied the next and found something in his ball-striking. At least for a few holes.

He birdied the par-5 fifth and the short par-4 eighth but made an unnecessary mistake on the ninth, only the fourth fairway he'd hit all day. His approach sailed the green, leaving an awkward pitch. He tried a high flop shot but got too much underneath the ball and the ball finished woefully short.

"I chose the wrong club on the last hole there," he said, "The wind came up, and I thought I could take something off a 4 (iron) and I hit it over the green. It should have been just 5, put it in the center of the green, two-putt and move on, but I didn't do it."

"I figured if I got it back to even par I'd only be four or five back of the lead.

"It looks like second place is at 4 (under). I'm still six back from second place. As of right now, that's not too bad."

Woods did appreciate the support he received from the galleries.

"Oh, they're incredible," he said.

"The fans here all the years I've been here have been extraordinary, and today with it being 50 degrees this morning or 45 degrees, for them to come out there and support us was pretty cool."

When he was asked if anything that was said to him stood out in particular, he sighed.

"Well, I had my head down struggling. I was dropping balls out of hazards and finding balls in trees, so I had my own issues out there."

In other circumstances, I'd imagine Woods would've welcomed getting back to normal routines, though it was hard to see a 74 as therapuetic.

"I would like to say yes," he said, "(But) I was struggling so bad today."

As he left the course, stopping only to change his shoes, Woods said he'd try not to be too hard on himself given what he's been through since Thanksgiving.

"I'm trying. I'm trying," he said, "But when you're fighting a miss like this and trying to piece together a round to keep myself in the tournament is pretty tough."

"I try and be easy on myself. It can be hard."