Tiger Woods struggles in opening round at Northern Trust

Tiger Woods struggles in opening round at Northern Trust

Tiger Woods joked after struggling to a four-over-par 75 in the first round at the Northern Trust in New Jersey on Thursday that at least he had broken 80.

Woods shot a dismal 4-over on Thursday that put him near the bottom of the leaderboard and unlikely to make the cut for the weekend. It is Woods' first withdrawal from a tournament worldwide since he pulled out before the second round of the 2017 Dubai Desert Classicdue to back spasms. It was the last of four surgeries Woods has had on his back.

"I'm going to have to figure out a way to get this thing under par (on Friday)", he said.

"It's still a little bit stiff, but that's just the way it's going to be", he told reporters after finishing almost last on a morning when Troy Merritt shot 62 to lead fellow American Dustin Johnson by one shot with half the field having completed their rounds.

The Northern Trust is the second time this year injuries have prevented Woods from playing.

"I just didn't play well".

Speaking at Royal Portrush, Woods admitted he had little choice but to play a limited schedule.

Woods has only committed to a new US PGA Tour event in Japan in October, while he will also tee up in his foundation's 18-man unofficialevent in the Bahamas the week before travelling to Melbourne. The 2019 BMW Championship is a PGA Tour event slated for August 15-18, at Medinah Country Club, in Medinah, Illinois.

The former world number one is the defending champion in Atlanta after beating Billy Horschel by two shots at East Lake for his first victory since 2013. Woods has not looked particularly sharp in any of his five starts since the Masters, although he did finish tied for ninth at the Memorial.

Woods has held steady at No. 5 in the world and entered this week at No. 28 in the FedEx Cup standings, projected to drop outside of the top 30.

The Northern Trust is the first of the three Fed Ex Cup playoff events, culminating in the Tour Championship, which Woods won previous year for his first title since 2013 after making an impressive recovery from long-term back problems.

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