September 18, 2020 9:39:30 am
Tiger Woods hit his opening drive to the center of the first fairway spun a short iron to 18 feet and just missed his birdie putt tapping in for an easy par.
The rest of his day was an upanddown scramble punctuated by an ugly double bogey.
Unable to take advantage of a relatively tame Winged Foot Woods had a string of three straight midround birdies but dumped a pitch shot on No 18 to conclude a 3over 73 Thursday in the opening round of the US Open.
Woods finished eight shots behind playing partner Justin Thomas whos 17 years younger and held the early lead after shooting 65.
Well it was a bit of ebb and flow to the round today Woods said I did not finish off the round like I needed to.
Woods the reigning Masters champion arrived at the US Open after missing the FedEx Cup playoffs and tying for 37th at the PGA Championship The 44yearold with the cranky back hadnt played a competitive round in three weeks but got off to a solid start with three straight pars on a rare day of prime scoring conditions at Winged Foot.
Woods ran into trouble when his tee shot ran through the fairway on the dogleg par4 fourth and he couldnt get up and down from in front of the green He just missed the fairway on the par4 fifth and an awkward lie in the greenside bunker led to another bogey.
Woods had his first birdie by spinning a short iron to six feet and making the putt on the short par4 sixth He gave it back two holes later when another tee shot just missed the fairway and settled deep in the mangled Winged Foot rough.
Beginning part of the round it seemed like things werent going my way Woods said Good tee shots ended up in the rough in bad spots.
Luck and momentum appeared to be on his side when he rolled in a 31foot birdie putt over one of the many severe slopes on Winged Foots tricky greens at No 9 That kicked off a stretch of three straight birdies putting Woods at 1under and in good position at a course where hes historically struggled.
The momentum was shortlived in Winged Foots long rough.
A shot that didnt fade enough led to bogey on the long par3 13th and one that faded too much caused another on the next hole Another long putt dropped for birdie on the difficult 16th but he gave it right back on the equally tough par4 17th.
Still in decent shape at 1 over Woods walked off No 18 with a sour taste for his round after dumping a tightlied pitch shot into the severe front slope of the par 4 and missing a ninefoot bogey putt.
I tried to stay as patient as possible and unfortunately just did not finish off my round the way I needed to he said.
Woods made five birdies but hit just six of 14 fairways and nine greens in regulation Hes now 21 over par in his last seven competitive rounds at Winged Foot and has a huge hill to climb for a 16th major title on a course thats sure to get tougher through the weekend.
We have a long way to go Woods said This is a long marathon of a tournament Theres a lot of different things that can go on.
Woods has some work to do in Fridays second round if hes going to continue on in this tournament much less make a run at the leaders.
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