Riviera crowds costly to Tiger Woods, give Rory McIlroy a headache

Golf Roundup: Bubba Watson takes lead at Riviera

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His playing partner Rory McIlroy, who finished five shots off the lead after a gutsy round of 69, might have been stretching it when he said Woods was "very close" to playing well, but he was spot on when he called for patience.

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On eight (of 14) fairways and 10 greens in regulation, the 3-time Web.com Tour grad offset two squares and a double with six birdies, now T1 in total birdies thru 36 holes with 11.

"You get used to it", the reigning tour Player of the Year, who hopped aboard Woods' private plane for the trip to Riviera, said after Thursday's opener. "I'm really excited to be going into the weekend of the tournament on the business end of things".

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Making matters worse, he wasn't giving himself many comfortable looks. "The greens were fast and bumpy, and I knew that," Woods said. "That was frustrating, because I knew where to hit it and I wasn't able to hit it there".

But after two tournaments and six rounds of competitive golf, Woods said he was ready to take the next step. I must have covered this event about a dozen times but there has never been a buzz like the one over the first two days.

The golf icon will now turn his attention to next week's Honda Classic, having committed to playing consecutive events.

Playing just his third event since a fourth back surgery a year ago, Woods struggled to find any rhythm and maintain any momentum on a Riviera Country Club track that has often befuddled him. He had a 14-under 130 total on TwinEagles' Talon course for a one-stroke lead over Stricker.

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"I was at one-under early, first hole, and all of a sudden I went double bogey-bogey and I was like, 'Oh, man, here we go, '" Woods said.

Woods, a 79-time PGA TOUR victor had a tough day off the tee and on the greens hitting just four of 14 fairways, one of which came after bouncing off a tree.

Three-time major champion Jordan Spieth hit a 69 to be seven shots behind Watson, while fellow star Rory McIlroy - victor of four major titles - fell to even par after recording a disappointing 2-over 73. They were both in a group of 10 sharing 15th place on two-under. "Thirty-six holes around here, it's a lot of golf".

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