ARDMORE, Pa. – Tiger Woods drained a 70-foot birdie putt Thursday during the first round of the U.S. Open and it appeared that the game’s biggest attraction had found a little magic early in this championship for the first time in five years. Problem is, nothing else Woods did remotely resembled the No. 1 player in the world.
For starters, Woods noticeably winced three times during the first 11 holes before play was suspended because of darkness. Approaches from gnarly rough on Nos. 1, 5 and 11 caused Woods to shake out his left arm numerous times. It is not clear if Woods was concerned with his elbow or his wrist.
At the end of the day Woods was 2 over and will face a 5-foot par putt early Friday morning on the 11th green.
Woods made three bogeys over his first five holes and was 2 over par. The 70-foot birdie bomb came on the par-4 sixth hole and it appeared Woods was in possession of some much-needed momentum. But he wasn’t able to sink a 25-footer for birdie on No. 7, missed a 10-footer for birdie on No. 8, recorded a three-putt bogey on the ninth hole and missed another 5 footer for birdie on the 10th hole and a promising round had turned to mush.
'I've got a lot of holes to play tomorrow. And hopefully I can play a little better than I did today,' Woods said.
So much was expected out of Woods’ grouping with Rory McIlroy and Masters champion Adam Scott, pitting the game’s top three ranked players. McIlroy and Scott held up their end of the hype – McIlroy was even par through 11 holes and Scott was 3 under, also through 11 holes.
On the day, it was Phil Mickelson who looked like Woods and Woods who looked more like Mickelson. While Mickelson was smooth, consistent and in control of each swing while shooting an opening-round 67 it was Woods who was erratic and inconsistent all over Merion.
Woods will resume his second round Friday at 7:15 a.m. ET.