February 16, 2006

Ailing Woods opens with 69 at Riviera

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

PACIFIC PALISADES, California (Reuters) - Tiger Woods,
battling a dose of flu, kept alive his hopes of a third
successive victory this year with a two-under-par 69 in the
Nissan Open first round on Thursday.

The world number one, who triumphed at the Buick
Invitational in San Diego in late January and also at the Dubai
Desert Classic the following week, mixed six birdies with two
dropped shots and a double-bogey at the par-three fourth.

"I was disgusted with how I felt," a frustrated Woods told
reporters. "I was hoping the fever would burn off during the
round but it didn't.

"I don't feel very good right now. I feel tired and I'm
going to go home and get some sleep."

American Woods, bidding to end a victory drought in the
only PGA Tour event he has played on a regular basis without
success, made an erratic start in calm, cool conditions at the
Riviera Country Club.

He birdied the first, dropped at the par-four second and
ran up a double-bogey at the fourth where he pulled his tee
shot well left, the ball bouncing on a cart path and ending up
in a bunker on the adjacent 17th hole.

Woods's sand escape fell short of the green and he was
unable to get up and down from there to salvage a bogey-four.

However, the 30-year-old recovered with further birdies on
six and seven to reach the turn in one-under 34.

The 10-times major winner picked up further shots on 10 and
17 before stumbling with a bogey at the last after pushing his
drive into the right rough and finding the front right
greenside bunker with his second shot.

"I felt like I drove the ball well and I also thought I
putted well today," added Woods, who finished two strokes
behind early leader Rod Pampling of Australia.

"But it was hard the way the greens were today. They were a
little bumpy and the ball was hopping all over the place."