Tiger Woods had a good day at Bridgestone by his low recent standards, with a -2 for his first round. But considering how leader Adam Scott shot -8, and Jason Day got -7 to start the Bridgestone Invitational, Tiger still looks mediocre by comparison.
However, mediocre is an improvement for Woods, especially after these last several months of higher scores. -2 would be fully inadequate for the old Woods, yet the new one can take it as a promising sign.
But compared to the other hot starts at the Bridgestone Invitational, it looks more inadequate. Adam Scott and Jason Day shot 62 and 63 respectively, while at least 20 other golfers topped or matched Tiger on the leaderboard in round one. Given these numbers, and how Woods has won on this course seven times before, -2 won't be enough to stay in contention for long.
To keep pace, Woods needs more birdies and cannot settle for pars much longer. If he does, then he will be an afterthought by Sunday afternoon, as he has been for much of 2010 and 2011. Of course, since his expectations are so low for once, just finishing below par and near the top 20 will be considered a solid start.
Yet the PGA Championship is coming up afterwards, so his standards will be a lot higher there. The only way for Woods to truly be a Tiger again isn't to win at Bridgestone, but to take another major. If he wants a shot at the PGA, he needs momentum from this tournament first.
Shooting a 68 is a good first step, yet if that's all he can score for the next three days, it would be more frustrating. For all the lowered expectations, Woods isn't happy unless he wins, which is how he became so powerful to begin with. No one fears him as much anymore, but if he has a 65 or two in him this weekend, that can start to change at the PGA next week.
Woods is now back on the course this morning, looking to make a bigger statement in the second round. If he does, then Tiger will make the weekend a lot more interesting, just like in the old days - but it's going to take more than he's shown lately to do that.