Yet, the erratic Eldrick still managed to shoot even par to keep himself in solid standing on the first day of the 103rd U.S. Open.
For the second consecutive major championship, Woods failed to make a birdie in the first round. He managed that dubious accomplishment in a Thursday 76 at the Masters.
This time, he used an eagle at the par-5 sixth to offset a pair of bogeys. Hes currently five shots back of leaders Brett Quigley and Tom Watson.
Justin Leonard and Jay Don Blake each went out early and posted 66.
Leonard, like Woods, also dropped a pair of shots, but more than atoned for his mistakes with six birdies. The 1997 British Open champion was a 1-under after bogeying the par-4 12th. He then birdied 13, 14 and 15.
The conditions were certainly calmer than I was expecting this morning and definitely a reason thatI was able to shoot 4-under, Leonard said.
Blake made five birdies and one bogey for his lowest round of the year. Not bad for a guy who missed the cut or withdrew from his first eight tournaments this season.
The 44-year-old is making his 12th career Open appearance, dating back to 1980. He tied for sixth in 1992 at Pebble Beach, but has missed the cut in his last four tries.
Woods is in a pack of 20 players who shot 70, tied for 25th place. He hit only six of 14 fairways and took 33 putts. He did hit 14 of 18 greens in regulation, but that didnt set up many Green-light opportunities.
You know the golf course is going to be difficult and the pins are going to be tricky and they were, said the 2000 and 2002 U.S. Open champion. Consequently, I fired away from just about every flag. Over 18 holes, I had two realistic looks at birdies, 16 and 17.
Of course, he missed both of those. But he did pour in a putt for eagle on his 15th hole, for his first red number of the day.
Having started at the 10th, Woods roped a 3-iron from 256 yards to 20 feet on the 555-yard sixth, and then finally got one to fall.
I wasnt firing at the flag, trust me, he said of his approach. I was trying to put the ball in the middle of the green and I lost it and got away with it.
Not that Woods gave himself a chance to play aggressively. He missed five consecutive fairways at one stretch ' and that despite using his driver only two or three times.
When I trusted my swing I hit it perfect, and when I tried to steer it just a touch or bow it down and just try to get it in play, I didnt hit the ball straight at all, he said. Im hitting it well when I step up and trust it, Ive just got to do that more often.
Leonard, who won this year's Honda Classic and closed the Colonial in 61, had no problem trusting his swing ' which hes revamped over the last two years, nor did he have any problem attacking the pins.
He hit a pitching wedge to six feet at the first; 7-iron to 12 feet at the third; 5-iron to 10 feet at No. 9; pitching wedge to two feet at 13; 8-iron to six feet at 14; 6-iron to 12 feet at 15.
When I had anything less than a 7- or 8-iron in my hands, I was trying to hit it at the hole, he said.
Playing alongside Woods and Els, reigning U.S. Amateur champion Ricky Barnes shot 1-over 71.