Woods was trying to decide between an 8-iron and a 9-iron on the 159-yard hole over the water, guarded front and back by bunkers. He watched Fred Couples hit a 6-iron that a big gust knocked down and deposited in the water. Woods went with a 7-iron that he hit like a bullet, over the water, over the green, into the gallery. From there, he hit a poor flop shot that didn't reach the green, chipped to 10 feet and missed the putt to take double bogey.
"I didn't feel comfortable hitting 7," Woods said. "I thought I had to take a lot off of it, but I didn't want it to ride, so I started it way left and just bailed out on it, hit it long. And I drew a good lie. It was just a bad chip shot."
He recovered with a wedge into 6 feet for birdie on the 15th, then a tee shot that covered a front flag on the par-3 16th and settled about 8 feet away.
Woods, coming off his worst three-tournament stretch as a pro, said he played as well as when he won at Bay Hill to end a 30-month drought on the PGA Tour.
"The things that I'm supposed to be doing for the past few tournaments, I was able to do," he said. "This is the way that I hit the ball at Bay Hill and the way I hit it at the end of last year. That's what's exciting about it."
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