PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland — It had been a rough start for Tiger Woods at this British Open, and as he was putting on the eighth hole for what might have been his first birdie on Thursday, a rainbow appeared over the Atlantic Ocean.
Woods squinted at the line of the 30-foot putt, wiped the blade of his putter, addressed the ball and missed.
Sometimes a rainbow is just a rainbow.
“I didn’t do much out there today,” Woods said later. “I hit a lot of missed shots, they were all left. Wasn’t hitting it solid. Everything was off the heel. Just trying to scrape it around.”
The best he could manage was a seven-over-par 78 in the opening round at Royal Portrush, which was also the first British Open round in Northern Ireland since Portrush hosted the event in 1951.
Woods has long been a fan of Northern Ireland’s great courses and of the decision to return to a part of the world where golf is both mainstream and affordable to the general public.
But as much as Woods wanted to honor the occasion and generate the same kind of communion with the public that he did while winning the Masters in April, his 43-year-old body and Portrush’s unforgiving layout would not allow it.
Woods had six bogeys, one double bogey and just one birdie, which came late in the round on the 15th hole and which he celebrated a bit facetiously by raising both arms. Woods appeared to be moving gingerly from the start on Thursday, and he confirmed that he was struggling physically after his highest-scoring round of the season by far.