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Tiger shoots 4-over after rough round with irons

By admin Jun17,2024

  • Mark Schlabach, ESPN Senior WriterJun 13, 2024, 02:44 PM ET


    • Senior college football writer
    • Author of seven books on college football
    • Graduate of the University of Georgia

PINEHURST, N.C. — Tiger Woods picked the wrong course to have a bad round with his irons.

The 15-time major champion hit 12 of 14 fairways in the first round of the 124th U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 on Thursday. But Woods’ irons weren’t dialed in on a course that demands accuracy because of its complex greens and dramatic runoffs, and he missed 9 of 18 greens en route to a 4-over 74.

“I didn’t hit my irons particularly well,” Woods said. “Didn’t putt that great. Drove it on the string all day. Unfortunately, I just didn’t capitalize on it.”

Woods, a three-time U.S. Open champion, was tied for 54th when he walked off the course, 9 strokes behind leader Patrick Cantlay, who opened with a 5-under 65.

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“I was somewhat conservative in some of my end points,” Woods said. “Then again, I didn’t hit the ball very well either. It added up to quite a bit of distance away from the flag. It’s not where I wanted to be on a lot of the holes. It just ended up being that far away because I wasn’t as sharp as I needed to be.”

Woods gave his fans a promising start when he made a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 10, his first hole of the round, to move to 1 under. On the par-4 12th, he made a 10-footer to save par, followed by an 8½-footer on the 13th to remain 1 under.

Things fell apart once he reached the par-4 16th. Woods missed the fairway for the first time off the tee, then had to punch out short of the green. He barely missed a 20-footer and made bogey to fall to even par.

On the par-3 17th, Woods three-putted from 47½ feet for a bogey. After making the turn at 1 over, Woods three-putted from 38 feet on No. 1. After another bogey on the second and a par on the third, Woods had a spectacular chip out of a greenside bunker but missed a 4½-footer for par for a bogey on No. 4.

Woods was 5 over from No. 16 to No. 4. He bounced back to pick up a birdie on the par-5 fifth, barely missing a 30-footer for eagle.

“This golf course is all about the greens,” Woods said. “The complexes are just so difficult and so severe that, I mean, I think 1-under par is only in fifth [place]. There aren’t that many scores that are low.

“It’s hard to get the ball close. In most golf courses you play, you hit shots into where it’s feeding off of slopes into flags, whereas collecting. Here everything is repelling. It’s just hard to get the ball on top of the shelves.”

Woods, 48, hasn’t broken par in a round in a major since carding a 1-under 69 in the second round of the 2022 PGA Championship at Southern Hills Golf & Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His 11 straight rounds in majors without breaking par is the longest streak of his career, according to data from ESPN Stats & Information.

Woods has work to do Friday if he’s going to avoid missing the cut for the second straight major. He knows it won’t be easy, given the conditions at Pinehurst No. 2.

“It can go so far the other way here, the wrong way,” Woods said. “It’s just so hard to get back. This is a golf course that doesn’t give up a whole lot of birdies. It gives up a lot of bogeys and higher. I thought I did the one thing I needed to do today, which is drive the ball well. I did that — I just didn’t capitalize on any of it.”


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