Matteson leads in Malaysia; Tiger Woods 3 back – Asia Pacific Classic 2012

It was hot, humid and his putts were lipping out. Tiger Woods felt like he’d been run over halfway through his first round in Malaysia since winning the 1999 World Cup on the same course. Tiger Woods

Image by Keith Allison via Flickr

Only one way to fix that: The 14-time major winner rolled in five birdies on the back nine on Thursday and finished with a 5-under 66 to trail first-round leader Troy Matteson by three shots.

Matteson had eight birdies in his 63 to take a one-stroke lead over fellow Americans Jeff Overton, Brian Harman and Robert Garrigus.

Woods, in the last pairing with Australia’s Marcus Fraser, knew the numbers to target early in his round. After birdies at the third and fifth holes, Woods missed two short putts for par at the eighth and ninth and seemed frustrated, frequently wiping his face and neck with a white towel and glaring after the balls that didn’t drop in the cup.

LEADERBOARD: CIMB Classic

Knowing it was going to take a total of something like 20 under to win the tournament on the 6,966-yard Mines Resort and Golf Club course, Woods decided the only way back into contention was to be aggressive.

“It’s a different type of mindset,” he said. “Going out there and shooting even par on that front nine, I just felt like I got run over.”

He said midway through the round he wasn’t bothered by the stifling humidity and 91 degree, or narrowly missing two birdie attempts before the two putts for par that lipped out.

“What is frustrating is turning at even par and I’m eight back,” he said.

“Three or 4 under par was my number on the back nine — if I could shoot that, I’m still right in the ballgame. I happened to get one more, which was a bonus.”

Woods knew he could have shot a score that would have put him higher than tied for seventh — he even missed a birdie putt from about 10 feet on the 18th — but he was happy with how he hit his driver and was generally pleased with his game.

“I really started hitting the ball quite well at the end of the front nine. I happened to miss two short putts … but also the two putts I hit were good putts at 8 and 9.” he said. “Realistically it could have been seven or eight (under). But even at the turn, and to still post five (under), it was a nice little comeback.

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