Tiger Woods stumbles to disastrous opening 78 at U.S. Open

Jun 14, 2018; Southampton, NY, USA; Tiger Woods walks the first fairway during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Shinnecock Hills GC - Shinnecock Hills Golf C. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports Shanna Lockwood/USA TODAY Sports)

Tiger Woods stumbles to disastrous opening 78 at U.S. Open

PGA Tour

Tiger Woods stumbles to disastrous opening 78 at U.S. Open

The day started as a nightmare for Tiger Woods and finished that way.

An opening triple bogey brought Woods that stunning start, and while he battled back for a number of holes, he eventually crumbled again to stumble to an 8-over 78 in the opening round of the U.S. Open.

That score was far from the worst on a brutal and windy Thursday – Woods sits in a tie for 103rd in the 156-man field – but it certainly was a bit of a surprising performance from Woods after some recent promising form.

It was an odd day for sure.

Woods took iron off the opening tee and hit a beauty, leaving him an ideal look for his approach. But then arose a calamity of errors.

From 135 yards, Woods airmailed the green on a hole where long was the bad miss. His ball bounded down a slope beyond the green and Woods was left with a brutal downwind 45-yard pitch from well below the surface and with little green to work with.

He left that pitch short of the green, with the ball trundling slightly down the side of that slope, and then putted from off the green for par. But he didn’t catch the putt right, and his ball failed to reach the green and came back down the slope a bit. His follow-up putt from off the green ran 7 feet by and he missed the remainder for double bogey.

That humiliating sequence wasn’t helped when on the following hole he missed a 5-footer for par. In a flash, Woods was 4 over.

The 42-year-old didn’t give in, though. His driver was in sync and Woods used it for a pair of calming pars and then a simple birdie at the par-5 fifth when he was just in front of the green in two, pitched to 4 feet and drained the putt.

The big stick continued to cooperate the remainder of the front nine, which he closed with four straight pars for a respectable and somewhat miraculous 3-over 38.

For a moment, it appeared Woods might really grind out a solid round when he left himself a supremely difficult 50-yard blind pitch in front of the par-4 10th green and then nipped that inside 4 feet and finished out a phenomenal par.

Then, it all came crashing down.

A tee shot into the bunker at the par-3 11th and a missed 20-footer meant a bogey and a drop to 4 over. Still, Woods was fine as he approached a 45-foot birdie putt at the par-4 13th.

That is until he left his first putt 6 feet short, pushed his par putt 3 feet past and missed the comebacker on the right. Woods had four-putted for a demoralizing double bogey to fall to 6 over.

The error compounded when Woods’ steady driving for much of the day then began to leave him. He flailed a 3-wood far right into fescue at the 536-yard par-4 14th. The rest of the hole was a mess as well, with Woods hooking an iron from there into more fescue, muscling out from there short of the green, pitching up to 9 feet and then lipping out the bogey putt.

The back-to-back doubles now had Woods at 8 over.

A good birdie chance from 10 feet at the par-5 16th went lacking as well, stopping Woods from salvaging any late momentum.

Yes, there was some nice fight from Woods on Thursday. And his nice driving was something good to see.

But he continued to suffer from the cold flatstick that so beset him in at Memorial – a T-23 showing where his ball-striking looked marvelous. And he made some mind-numbing mistakes that led to wasted strokes on holes where he could’ve come away with bogeys rather than doubles and triples if he hadn’t been so sloppy.

Some time remains – although Woods has to play well Friday to avoid missing his first cut since the Genesis Open – but so far this is trending toward Woods’ disappointing Masters performance.

Or worse.

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