Tiger Woods of the United States hits off the third...

Tiger Woods of the United States hits off the third tee during the first round of The Northern Trust at Liberty National Golf Club on August 08, 2019 in Jersey City, New Jersey. Credit: Getty Images/Jared C. Tilton

JERSEY CITY—Tiger Woods said there was no secret in his round on Thursday. “I just didn’t hit any good shots and didn’t make any putts,” he said after shooting 4-over-par 75. “Other than that, it added up to a round that broke 80.”

The math also suggested his start at the Northern Trust, the FedEx Cup playoff opener at Liberty National, was more like his missed cuts at the PGA Championship and British Open than his exhilarating victory at the Masters. The only thing this week has had in common so far with his memorable April in Augusta was that he barely hit any full shots the day before the tournament.

That is a reflection on the condition of his back. “It’s a little bit stiff, but that’s just the way it’s going to be,” he said after having had the second-worst score in the mild morning wave. His round included a penalty drop after a pulled 9-iron on the par-3 14th hole, leading to a double bogey.

Woods had played only four times in the past four months, missing cuts at Bethpage and Royal Portrush, and finishing ninth and 21st, respectively, at the Memorial and U.S. Open. It does not appear that his surgically fused back is up to full-time success.

“It just feels frustrating to shoot anything high no matter how I feel,” he said. “We had the early tee times, we had the perfect greens…I’m going to have to figure out a way to get this thing under par.”

Mets’ McNeil attends

Jeff McNeil of the Mets was at the tournament, chatting with golfers including Jordan Spieth, who won the 2009 U.S. Junior Amateur, in which McNeil also was a participant…Dustin Johnson, who won this event in 2017 at Glen Oaks Club in Old Westbury, had no bogeys and eight birdies, four of them in succession on the fifth through eighth holes.

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