SOUTHAMPTON, NEW YORK | Having seen the way the first round of the U.S. Open was unfolding early Thursday at windswept Shinnecock Hills, Tiger Woods had a simple game plan when he arrived for his 1:47 p.m. tee time.
“It was pretty evident nobody was making any birdies in the morning. Lots and lots of bogeys and higher and others. My game plan was not to make any others, and I made three of them. So didn’t do very well there,” Woods said after shooting an 8-over 78 that left him nine behind leaders Dustin Johnson, Scott Piercy, Ian Poulter and Russell Henley.
Woods could hardly have had a worse start, making a triple bogey from the first fairway after hitting his approach shot through the gusting wind over the green. It took him three tries – a pitch and two putts – to reach the green before starting with a 7.
A bogey at the par-3 second put him 4-over par quickly but Woods found his rhythm. By the time he walked to the par-3 11th tee, he was 3 over for the day and in solid shape overall.
“After that start, shoot even par for the next 16 holes and I’d be just fine,” Woods said. “The guys aren’t going anywhere today. One under is leading right now. So just kind of keep hanging in there.”
Had it only been that simple.
Instead, Woods bogeyed the 11th, four-putted the par-4 13th for a double bogey then made another double at the long, difficult par-4 14th when he sprayed his tee shot into the thick rough right of the fairway.
The four-putt from 40 feet included a miss from 2 feet, 10 inches, a searing reminder of the putting problems that have plagued Woods in his past four starts.
“It’s frustrating because I’m hitting it well,” said Woods, who hit nine of 14 fairways but only seven greens. “In the last four tournaments I have not putted it 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.”
With no 10-shot cut rule in effect at the U.S. Open, Woods will need a strong second round to play the weekend at Shinnecock Hills. He is outside the top 100 after one round with the low 60 and ties advancing to the weekend.
“Shoot something in the 60s tomorrow and I’ll be just fine,” Woods said. “I just think today was the toughest day we’ll have all week. But then again they’re going to let the greens firm out a little bit. They’ll start to pick up a little speed and this will be a good U.S. Open again.”