Very little to savour
Tiger Woods has reigned supreme at Firestone Country Club over the last decade although he found very little to savour at the venue as he struggled in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational first round on Thursday.
The American world number one, seeking a record eighth victory on the tight par-70 layout, struggled with every department of his game on the way to a four-over-par 74.
In pursuit of his first PGA Tour title this season, Woods missed nine of 14 fairways and totalled 32 putts while recording his worst score at Firestone in 45 rounds.
The 14-times major winner had averaged a superb 67.75 in his previous 44 outings here but his battling display on Thursday left him 10 strokes behind pacesetting American Bubba Watson.
Image: Tiger Woods on the 17th hole during first round play at the WCG Bridgestone Invitational
'I didn't play well'
"I didn't play well," Woods, sporting a goatee this week, told reporters after recording six bogeys and two birdies.
"Only thing I did well today is I kept my patience out there, grinded all day. That was the best I could have done.
"It's frustrating because I warmed up well, my practice sessions at home were good and today was not indicative of how I've been playing," he added.
Asked if his two-week break since the British Open had been a contributing factor, Woods replied: "It's not that. I just didn't play well.
"I was struggling on the greens and didn't hit any good iron shots. Probably hit about two good iron shots all day today. That's definitely not enough," he added.
Image: Tiger Woods looks on during first round play at the WCG Bridgestone Invitational golf tournament
Woods, who had never previously shot worse than a 72 at Firestone, bogeyed three of the first five holes before a pinpoint approach to two feet gave him a tap-in birdie at the sixth.
However, he missed yet another fairway off the tee at the ninth and the green with his approach to drop another shot as he reached the turn in three-over 38.
Woods, who triumphed by four strokes here last year, also bogeyed 11 and 14 as he repeatedly pushed his tee shots right.
At the par-four 11th, his ball ended up under a tree from where he could advance it only 40 yards up the fairway.
After finding the fairway off the tee at the 17th, he struck a good approach to seven feet and sank the putt for his second birdie of the day. He immediately doffed his cap and bowed to the crowd before breaking into a smile.
Image: Tiger Woods hits his tee shot on the seventh hole during first round play at the WCG Bridgestone Invitational
'I hopefully do well tomorrow'
Woods, who has lost the aura of invincibility he once enjoyed since his private life unravelled at the end of last year, signed off with a two-putt par at the 18th.
"Just because I like the golf course doesn't mean I'm going to play well on it," the 34-year-old said.
"You still have to execute, and I didn't do that today.
"I've just got to hopefully tomorrow get it to even par or under par for the tournament and then hopefully put together a good weekend and see where that puts me," he added.
After taking a self-imposed five-month exile in a bid to repair his marriage to his Swedish wife Elin, Woods returned to the PGA Tour in April but has yet to win in seven starts.
Image: Tiger Woods