DUBLIN, Ohio — Image by yourself watching Michael Jordan from Row 1 courtside with no admirers in the creating, just you sitting almost by yourself with an unobstructed look at of the best basketball player of all time.
Now photograph sitting on the glass to witness Wayne Gretzky participate in, no a single sitting down in entrance of or all over you as the biggest hockey participant of all time performs his magic on ice.
Sitting in the dugout and watching Babe Ruth or Hank Aaron hit dwelling operates.
Standing on the sideline looking at Tom Brady or Joe Montana engineer a two-moment drill.
Or being courtside with no a person all over you looking at Roger Federer or Serena Williams participate in.
This kind of was the scene at the Memorial Tournament’s opening round Thursday with Tiger Woods participating in in his 1st tournament in five months — in entrance of no spectators for the initial time in his profession.
At 1:17 p.m., an announcer at the initially tee barked out Woods’ name to introduce him to the smattering of tour officers and media who ended up on hand for his tee time together with No. 1 rated Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka.
And all you read was, properly, absolutely nothing.
No roar. No clapping. No knuckleheads bellowing, “Get in the hole’’ or “You da man’’ as he teed off.
It was silent.
It was bizarre.
As Woods, McIlroy and Koepka walked off the initially tee and toward the adventures of their respective rounds, the only appears you read ended up the players’ clubs quietly clanking inside their baggage as their caddies trudged on in the 90-degree heat.
Less than standard situation, which is to say no pandemic restrictions and 30,000 lovers at the occasion, the buzz close to these a few heavyweights of the activity taking part in in the exact same group would be palpable. Countless numbers would have lined equally sides of the fairways at the ropes.
The theater without the excitement of the supporters as dulled to a diploma, but it was interesting nonetheless — irrespective of the simple fact that none of the three designed a significant charge up the leaderboard.
Woods, with a birdie on 18, concluded with a 1-under 71 to stand in a tie for 18th whilst McIlroy was the small person in the team at 2-below and Koepka posted an even-par 72.
But the opportunity to see Woods so up-near in a significant-championship-like field was unique. It is something people would pay out a ton of dollars for, and that privilege was not shed on the couple of who had been in attendance.
“The electrical power was not the identical without the need of the enthusiasts,’’ Woods explained following his round. “That definitely was visible, generally distinctive. [But] I nonetheless felt the exact eagerness, edginess, nerviness starting out, and it was great. It was a good experience. I haven’t felt this in a whilst.’’
Woods hadn’t performed in a event given that he concluded past in the Genesis Invitational in February. Thursday marked 151 days because he’d final played in competitiveness. He was 2-below right after 3 holes, but unsuccessful to capitalize on it. Still, thinking of the layoff and the tough problems, it was a good start out.
“It’s been a whilst considering the fact that I’ve performed,’’ Woods stated. “I bought off to pretty much an ideal begin and obtained a experience for the round early. I just didn’t make just about anything currently. I had appears to be at birdies, but I genuinely didn’t make a lot.
“I was extremely delighted the way I drove it, my experience for my irons. I just did not very strike the putts tough ample. Most of my putts were being dying, didn’t rather have plenty of oomph to it. I was a tiny little bit rusty, but felt like all round it was a fantastic start.’’
Woods, taking part in in his very first match considering the fact that in advance of COVID-19 set a halt to all sporting activities and has prohibited spectators from attending golf tournaments, said ahead of the match that he’d spoken to some fellow players who’ve been actively playing the earlier thirty day period to decide on their mind about pandemic-age golf.
“The energy is unique,’’ he said. “There’s almost nothing to feed off of strength-wise. You make a massive putt or make a massive par or make a big chip or hit a hell of a shot, there’s no a person there. That is one of the much more intriguing factors that it’ll be heading ahead.’’