June 14, 2018

Woods Pushes Through Windy First Round At The U.S. Open

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Tiger Woods battled back after a bad start, but couldn’t get untracked Thursday in the first round of the 118th U.S. Open at windy Shinnecock Hills Golf Club.

Competing in the tournament for the first time since 2015, the three-time champion slipped to 4-over par after two holes in treacherous conditions and turned in 3-over. But two holes derailed him on the back side, where he posted a 40, and Woods wound up at 8-over 78.

“My game plan was not to make any ‘others’ and I made three of them,” Woods said, referring to a score worse than bogey.

The unforgiving, links-style layout proved challenging for everyone. Only four players broke par, but just barely, as Russell Henley, Dustin Johnson, Scott Piercy and Ian Poulter posted 1-under 69s. Jason Dufner added a 70.

The remainder of the 156-player field finished in the black, with 27 shooting in the 80s. The average score was 76.149.

A late starter with Johnson and Justin Thomas, Woods split the fairway with his opening tee shot, but his approach bounced over the green and down a slope into a shaggy drop area. Short-sided, Woods’ flop shot came up just short of the putting surface and rolled back down the hill. He putted from there, but the ball rolled back again. Woods putted again and the ball slid seven feet by the hole, where he two-putted for a seven.

“On No. 1, I hit it through the wind and compounding my problem, I actually hit a very good flop shot,” said Woods. “But the wind knocked it down. Then I hit two bad putts on 1 and 2. For most of the day, I didn’t putt well.”

Woods missed a four-foot par putt at the second.

“My goal from there was to shoot even the next 16,” he said.

Woods’ downfall came at the par-4 13th. Only 5-over, he four-putted from 40 feet.

“It was not very good at all,” said Woods. “I was worried about running the putt by because it was downhill on the other side. I left it (four feet) short. Blocked the next one and then blocked it again.”

A poor drive and second shot at 14 resulted in his second-straight double-bogey. Woods parred the last four holes.

He hit nine of 14 fairways, seven of 18 greens and finished with 30 putts. His lone birdie came at the par-5 fifth, where he got up-and-down from a greenside bunker.

“It’s frustrating because I hit the ball well,” Woods said. “In the last four tournaments, I have not putted well. So if I can putt like I did at the beginning of the year we’ve got something. I just haven’t done that.”

Woods is tied for 102nd and knows he must improve to stick around for the weekend, when anything can happen. The top 60 players and ties advance.

He draws an early start Friday. Woods tees off at 8:02 a.m. ET on the 10th hole with Johnson and Thomas.

“I kept reminding myself that Lanny (Wadkins) almost pulled himself into a playoff in ’86, with a round in the mid-60s on Sunday,” Woods said of the U.S. Open at Shinnecock. “So it can be done. This golf course is kind of setting up for that right now.”