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Woods Keeps Open Hopes Alive

PINEHURST, N.C. -- Tiger Woods dragged his putter and marked up the ninth green in a show of disgust. When he missed his short birdie putt on the last hole, he stepped off the green and shouted an obscenity.
For a guy who spent the week preaching patience, Woods had a hard time Friday keeping his.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods reacts to one of his three birdies Friday.
Woods drew a mild rebuke from the USGA for damaging the green on the ninth hole and some disapproving stares from the crowd around the 18th green for cursing. When the day ended, though, his party line hadn't changed.
'You can't have highs and lows,' Woods said. 'Yeah, I get frustrated out there and excited out there, but you try to keep everything down, keep it as level as you possibly can.'
Woods remained in contention for his third U.S. Open title and his second major of the year, overcoming his anger with a good finish for a 1-over 71 that left him right where he began the day - three shots off the pace.
The round was more plodding than spectacular but it certainly had its moments, beginning on the second tee when Woods had his caddie, Steve Williams, take scissors to his shirt because it felt too tight when he finished his swing.
That was interesting to all watching, but what happened on the ninth green wasn't so entertaining to Open officials.
Woods had putted from the front edge of the green on the par-3 and ran it past some 12 feet. He missed the putt coming back and, as he walked toward the cup, he pushed down on his putter and dragged it heavily on the green in frustration.
The putter clearly marked up a line on the green several feet long, and Woods sheepishly tried to pat it down after tapping in his putt for bogey.
'I wasn't exactly very happy with myself,' Woods said.
Woods didn't attempt to apologize for the incident, and he wasn't penalized for it despite the USGA saying his actions 'may be understood as a breach of etiquette.'
In a statement, the organization said that since it was a one-time occurrence, it did not qualify as a 'serious breach' that would require a penalty. The USGA also said a rule prohibiting scraping the putting surface for testing purposes wasn't broken because Woods had just a tap-in left and wasn't trying to test the green.
Woods tried to cast the incident in a humorous light.
'I just roughed up the green and went back and mowed it back down again,' he said.
The bogey at No. 9 was the third on the front side for Woods, who started the day with a 15-foot birdie putt on the second hole to get to 1-under-par for the tournament. He was six shots off the lead as he made the turn, then ran off a string of pars before reaching the 492-yard par-4 16th, the hardest hole on an extremely hard course.
Woods made it look easy, booming a drive that almost made it to a crosswalk that wasn't supposed to be reachable. He then feathered a 9-iron to about 8 feet and made the birdie putt.
Woods nearly saved the best for last. After another massive drive on the 18th hole, he had a wedge to the green and hit it to about 8 feet once again. The putt was relatively simple, uphill and breaking a bit to the right, but Woods didn't give it enough pace and it fell off on the low side.
Clearly unhappy, Woods walked a few steps off the green and cursed loudly at himself.
'I really wanted that one,' he said.
Woods, whose last U.S. Open win came in 2002 at Bethpage, is at 1-over 141 after rounds of 70-71. He wasn't unhappy with Thursday's opening round, and he was pleased with the second round despite missing the last putt and 3-putting the sixth and ninth holes.
'Days like today typify a U.S. Open,' Woods said. 'You've just got to go out there and be as patient as possible and grind away.'
Patience might not have been the word people watching Woods would have used to describe the round. But Woods, who has a history of having minor blowups on the course, is just as adept in refocusing himself and moving to the next shot once he's let off steam.
That happened again on Friday, one reason why Woods likes the position he's in going into the weekend.
'If you finish the week even par, you're going to be looking really good, and the guys are coming back,' he said. 'That's just the way it's going to be. No one is going to run off with it, not with these conditions and these pin locations.'
Related links:
  • Leaderboard - 105th U.S. Open
  • Full Coverage - 105th U.S. Open

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