KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) –
Tiger Woods said a magical 59 was possible this week after top American and Asian players shrugged off “stifling” conditions to make a roaring start to the CIMB Classic in Malaysia.
America’s Troy Matteson led the charge with a sizzling eight-under 63 at the par-71 Mines Resort and Golf Club, including four birdies in his last four holes, while three players were on 64 and another two scored 65.
Woods carded 66 in his first round, played in 34 degree Celsius (93 Fahrenheit) and high humidity in the Malaysian capital, and despite consecutive bogeys on eight and nine. Of the 48-man field, only seven were over par.
Afterwards, the 14-time Major winner said soft ground conditions encouraged aggressive shots into the green — adding that the rare figure of 59, achieved only sporadically in golfing history, was a possibility.
“If the wind doesn’t blow and we get decent pins, where they don’t put them on spots where they’re tough to get at, guys could do it. You could conceivably see it,” Woods said on Thursday.
“But it’s all dependent on the pin locations and the fact that it’s going to rain here just about every day, and we’re getting mud balls out there… But if everything works out in your favour, who knows?”
In sauna-like heat, the American reached for the towel and had to pull out of shots to wipe sweat from his face. Dripping with perspiration after his round, he said he was headed straight for a cold shower.
“It was a little bit stifling out there… I would love to hop in an ice tub right now. Unfortunately we’ve got to go back to the hotel, and hopefully get that shower as cold as it can get,” Woods said.
“Everyone has got to deal with it. It’s hot, it’s humid, and they’ve got to stay hydrated. The hardest part is actually eating because you’re just not hungry. I’m just like everyone else here, we’re going to lose a few LBs (pounds) this week.”
America’s Jeff Overton, who was tied for second after a 64, said he learned the hard way about Malaysia’s sweaty conditions.
“Last year was the first time I’d ever been over here, and it was the first time I had ever gone through three gloves in a round,” he said. “Going into this year, I had them stocked up.”
Woods’ prediction of rain was quickly proved correct as the course was drenched by a loud thunderstorm shortly after play finished for the day.