Tiger Woods was left to rue a frustrating finish to his opening round at the US Open on Thursday as he failed to take advantage of perfect conditions at the notoriously tough Winged Foot course.
Woods recovered from two over par after five holes with the aid of a hat-trick of birdies around the turn, only to bogey the 17th and run up a double bogey on the last after duffing a pitch from short of the green.
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The resulting 73 left the Masters champion eight shots behind playing partner and clubhouse leader Justin Thomas, who enjoyed a one-shot lead over Ryder Cup team-mate Patrick Reed.
Rory McIlroy carded a three-under-par 67 as seven early starters broke the par of 70.
In contrast, Colin Montgomerie's 69 was the only sub-par score in the opening round at Winged Foot in 2006 which was eventually won by Australia’s Geoff Ogilvy with a five over par score.
“Well, it was a bit of ebb and flow to the round today,” Woods said.
“I made a bunch of putts in the middle part of the round.
“It seemed like most of my drives on the front nine landed in the fairway and ended up in bad spots, and I tried to stay as patient as possible, and unfortunately just did not finish off my round the way I needed to.
“I thought the golf course was set up fantastic.
“I thought that what they did with the hole locations were very fair today. It gave us an opportunity to make some birdies, and you look at most of the scores, and the guys took advantage of it.
“I don't see any reason why it won't get harder and get more difficult. I just think that the golf course is there to be had.
“They gave us a lot of opportunities with the hole locations.”
Golf world reacts to ‘brutal’ Tiger Woods drama
Yahoo Sports writer Jay Busbee summed up Woods’ ‘brutal’ day.
“Woods carded five birdies on the day, which normally would be cause for celebration except for the fact that he also carded six bogeys and one double,” Busbee wrote.
“Woods got an object lesson in how brutal the rough can be. Every time he drifted even a few feet off the fairway, he had to hack out of ankle-deep rough.
“Woods closed out his own day by going bogey-double bogey, including a truly wretched chunk at the bottom of the mountainside that is the 18th green.
“That’s not the way you want to go out, but if Woods can focus on the positives, he ought to be able to fight his way into the weekend.”
Fans and commentators were also stunned by Woods’ up-and-down day.
It was amazing watching Tiger Woods chop his way to the finish at Winged Foot on a day when he actually made a bunch of putts. He went from being in the mix to being 8 shots behind Justin Thomas in a blink.— Mike Lupica (@MikeLupica) September 17, 2020
Tiger Woods could have been 2 under but his putt didn't go in at the 12th then he double bogeyed the following 2 consecutive holes and is 1 over now. That's Golf at its brutal punishing best. #USOpen— Responsible Father of Three!!! 🇿🇦 (@AndileMlondo) September 17, 2020
US Open is top class. So much more entertaining watching Tiger Woods duff one into the bunker like you would at your local and greens playing like they were designed by Willy Wonka #USOpengolf #USOpengolf— Zack Jones (@ZackJ0nes) September 17, 2020
MNgreek US Open Golf— MNgreek (@footballguy56) September 17, 2020
Not to make the cut
Tiger woods +140 *Pound It*
The dude can't even play ok on regular courses
now he's going to play probably the hardest course
there is I see a full meltdown at a wonderful price.#USOpen2020 #USOpen #sportsbettingadvice
Tough start to US Open for Aussies
Adam Scott and Jason Day have ground to make up following tough starts for Australia's two former World No.1 golfers.
Scott closed with two birdies in a one-over-par 71 to be trailing some big-name early first-round leaders by five shots in New York.
Day was one stroke further adrift after opening with a 72 in relatively easy scoring conditions at the brutal and famous Winged Foot layout.
Day and Scott were among nine Australians returning to the scene of countryman Ogilvy's memorable triumph in 2006.
Ogilvy won with a five-over 72-hole total and Day is predicting this year's winner will also struggle to break par for the championship.
Little wonder Scott lamented not taking advantage of some rare respite on Thursday.
After teeing off on the 10th, Scott had five bogeys in his round but hung tough with birdies on the 15th, third, eighth and nine holes - including a tap-in on the last following a lovely approach.
“It was a nice way to finish the round. Lunch is going to taste a lot better,” Scott said.
“I needed it. I was kind of stalling at the end there. We had kind of ideal conditions out there, I think, for the first round of a US Open.
“I was a little scratchy into the greens when I missed a couple fairways, and you can't be too critical about your shots into the greens from there.
“When I was in the fairway, just wasn't quite dialled in.
“I putted well today, though. If I can straighten it out with the irons, everything else feels good.”