There were some tough, windy conditions in the first round of the 2019 Hero World Challenge Golf tournament, but Gary Woodland and Patrick Reed sit atop the field of 18 players with six-under par 66 at the Albany Golf Course yesterday afternoon.
“I drove the ball really well today. The wind’s tough out there,” Woodland said. “I drove the golf ball beautifully and controlled the ball in the wind, which is what you’ve got to do out here.”
Reed said he knew he had to play from the fairway and be patient.
“I knew today was a day you had to play from the fairway, you had to give yourself opportunities and had to be patient because the greens here aren’t that slopey so if you’re on the green, you can be aggressive with most of the putts,” Reed said.
Woodland had almost half of the round with birdies, finishing with eight. He knows there is a lot of golf remaining but like where he is up to this point.
“I saw some putts go in obviously to make a lot of birdies, made some putts, which is nice. 54 more holes, but I like where I’m at right now.”
Reed finished the round with seven birdies despite the wind being awkward for him.
“This is a kind of awkward wind. We saw this earlier this week, but during tournament play we haven’t really seen it. I don’t remember the last time it was I hit a wedge into 16 and nonetheless I was sitting there going, there’s never a chance I’m going to hit 51 like I did yesterday. So today I hit a soft lob wedge,” Reed said.
One of the talks of the tournament was his new set of irons which he said helped him a lot yesterday. He felt the irons and his swing were doing well.
“They actually just threw up my stats while I was just outside and it said I only hit 11 out of 18 greens, but I felt like I hit it a lot better than that,” Reed added.
The pair will tee off at 12.18 p.m. today.
Tournament host Tiger Woods sits at the 11th position – tied with Bubba Watson as they both finished even par.
Woods had a great start to the tournament going three-under and two-under before reaching holes 17 and 18 where he had a bogey and double bogey respectively. His best hole of the day was hole 15 where he had an eagle.
“It was not a very good start. Didn’t play the par 5s well early and then got it going on the back nine for a little bit. Got myself kind of right there in the mix and then bad shots on 17, 18,” Woods said.
He even spoke about the unusual wind that was on the course yesterday.
“Normally if it’s like this, it should be a little bit cooler than this, but this is definitely a different wind. It blew hard and it was tough all day,” Woods said. “The ball was moving a little bit on the greens and had to play for that and it was just a tough scoring day.”
Woods and Johnson will tee off at 11:23 a.m. today.
Jon Rahm was last year’s winner, when he finished 20-under par 268 to hold off Tony Finau by four strokes. This year he opened the tournament with a score of two-under par 70.
“Kind of unexpected to have the speed of greens we had with how hard it was blowing because my ball moved on three. Me and Rosie hit the putts on 1, 2 and 3 and they basically bobbled in, so kind of made me lose a little bit of confidence,” Rahm said.
Rahm continued: “Besides that, I played great golf, tee to green played good, solid. Just couldn’t tell you where the ball was going to go with the putter face and it showed, I couldn’t make a single putt and the under-par scores is purely ball striking.”
The second round gets underway today with the first pair set to tee off at 10:50 am. The Golf Channel will have live coverage from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The tournament wraps up on Saturday and then all of the participants in the President’s Cup will head about 10,000 miles away to Royal Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia, to play in the President’s Cup that starts on Monday, December 9 and wraps up on Sunday, December 15.