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  • Tiger Woods shot an eight-over 78, including a triple bogey and two doubles, in the first round of the U.S. Open at Shinnecock.
By Daniel Rapaport
June 14, 2018

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. — Tiger Woods opened the U.S. Open with an eight-over 78 at Shinnecock Hills, a round that will turn his Friday into a battle just to make the cut. 

On the first hole, Woods, who played with Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson, found the middle of the fairway before airmailing his second shot over the green. After a flop shot attempt fell woefully short and a putt also didn't get to the green, Woods eventually made a triple-bogey 7 to start the round. He would also bogey the second hole before playing the next eight in one-under par. 

After he appeared to have steadied matters, Woods bogeyed 11 then made back-to-back double bogeys on 13 and 14. The one on 13 was particularly painful, as Woods hit the green in regulation then four-putted. He parred his last four holes for 78. 

Johnson played beautifully all day and was one of just two players, along with Russell Henley, to break par in the afternoon wave. His 69 put him in a tie for the lead. Thomas shot 74. 

Below is a hole-by-hole breakdown of Tiger's round. 

Hole 18, par 4: Par, +8 for the day 

Tiger's drive barely missed the fairway to the right, and his approach was short. That was a pattern all day. He hit a nice pitch off a tight lie for a tap-in par. 

Woods didn't hit the ball terribly, but he failed to get anything out of his round score-wise. That's become a troubling trend for Woods—he used to manufacture 70s out of nothing, while these days he's found a way to turn 68s into 73s with sloppy play around the greens. He didn't hit it well enough to be near the lead today, but he very well could have grinded out a 74 to put himself right in the thick of things. 

Certainly a disappointing start to his first U.S. Open since 2015, but he's back at it tomorrow morning at 8:02 a.m. on the 10th tee. 

Hole 17, par 3: Par, +8 for the day

As ho-hum as pars get. Six-iron to middle of the green and easy two-putt. 

Hole 16, par 5: Par, +8 for the day

Tiger found the fairway with his tee shot and left himself 268 yards to this par 5. He went with his driving iron and hit a high draw that didn't turn quite enough. He had a straightforward bunker shot for his third and left it about 10 feet short, then his birdie effort hit some bumps and missed to the right. A missed opportunity to get one back on the lone par 5 on the back. 

Hole 15, par 4: Par, +8 for the day

His drive finished just left of the fairway but found a decent lie in the rough. That allowed him to hit a sky-high wedge just short of the green, and he gave his chip a chance of going in. Tap-in par, but it has gotten late early. 

Hole 14, par 4: Double-bogey, +8 for the day

Well, this has gotten out of hand. To throw salt in a wound, after the four-putt double-bogey Tiger had to play the hardest hole on the course, 14. His three wood was fanned way right and found the thick fescue. Instead of laying up into the fairway, he took a mighty lash at it but his clubface was turned by the rough and he found even thicker rough left of the fairway. With his third, he hacked out back into the fairway then hit a nice pitch to 10 feet. His bogey putt lipped out on the high side and that's a second straight double-bogey and third "other" of the day. 

He's fuming.  

Hole 13, par 4: Double-bogey, +6 for the day

Eeeeeek. Four-putt. 

Tiger found the middle of the fairway with a driving iron then, then his uphill approach from the fairway finished 40 feet below the hole. His first putt finished about eight feet short, leaving a five-footer for par. These are the putts Tiger used to drain in his sleep. This time, he made a jabby stroke, resulting in a push that never had a chance and raced by the hole on the right side. The bogey effort also missed right.

After grinding to remain three-over through 10, Tiger is now six-over and going the wrong way. In a U.S. Open, you can maybe afford one stretch like the one Tiger started his round with. But another three-over three-hole stretch? That's almost impossible to come back from. And Tiger knows that; he looked just about ready to snap his putter in half after it let him down this time. 

Hole 12, par 4: Par, +4 for the day

If you need any evidence that Tiger is feeling good about his swing, I'd point you to his tee shot on 12. It was a flighted-down three wood that never left the center of the fairway. His approach shot landed just short of the green and didn't kick onto the green as he'd have hoped, leaving about a 25 footer from just off the front of the green. His birdie effort was tracking the whole way but finished just one roll short of a bounce-back birdie. 

Hole 11, par 3: Bogey, +4 for the day

The par streak is stopped at five. Number 11 has a small green and is being smothered by a left-to-right wind, so it takes a quality shot to find the putting surface. Tiger's tee ball started right of the flag and never had a chance to find the green, but it didn't plug and found a perfect lie in the bunker. His bunker shot was blind, as the lip was severe, but relatively straightforward. He caught it fat and left himself 20 feet for par. That putt finished about two feet short. 

He would have loved to get up and down from that bunker, and you'd think he'd be able to do so roughly 80% of the time. He'll be disappointed with that bogey. 

Hole 10, par 4: Par, +3 for the day

Tiger went with a driving iron on what is one of the hardest holes on the golf course. It got a bit unlucky to catch the rough just right of the fairway—if it had stayed in the short stuff, it would have rolled another 30 yards easily. His approach from a downslope was straight downwind, and he was wary to go long of the green (which is death), so he left it well short of a false front. But he hit another beautiful pitch to about four feet and knocked a delicate one just over the front edge to stay at three-over. 

Tiger's in full grind mode after that start. He's managed some nice up-and-ins to keep the momentum going, and he's played really steady since the third hole: one birdie and seven pars. 

Hole 9, par 4: Par, +3 for the day

If I'd have told Tiger after the second hole, when he was four-over and looking shaky as can be, that he'd turn in three-over 38, he'd have taken it. That's exactly what he did after another solid par at the par-3 9th. 

He hit a fairway wood down the middle of the fairway, then hit a safe approach long of the flag (there's a steep false front on the ninth green). His birdie putt was a lightning quick left-to-right swinger that he judged beautifully, leaving a tap-in. 

Front-nine stats: 6/7 fairways, 4/9 greens, 14 putts, three-over 38

Looks better than a three-over 38, but that's what a triple-bogey will do to you. 

Hole 8, par 4: Par, +3 for the day

Bit of a missed opportunity there. Tiger hit another perfect driver right down the pipe—past Thomas's drive, which was also down the middle—then controlled the distance perfectly with his wedge approach. That left a nine footer, right-to-left for birdie, the type of putts pros make all the time. His effort was low and left the entire way. It's another stress-free par, but that was a really good chance to pick up a rare non-par 5 birdie. 

Hole 7, par 3: Par, +3 for the day

The seventh hole at Shinnecock is famous for the wrong reasons. In 2004, the USGA "lost" the green, a euphimism for saying it got way too dry and wouldn't hold even perfect shots. It's not playing quite as severe today, but it's still a very difficult par 3 with disaster lurking everywhere. 

Tiger hit a high mid-iron that landed on the green but short and left of the flag, and the ball started rolling toward the front bunker. But it got lucky and stayed in the fringe, and Woods hit a perfect bump-and-run to about a foot for another tap-in par. 

Hole 6, par 4: Par, +3 for the day

Yet another good driver down the left side of the fairway, leaving a 169-yard, uphill and into-the-wind approach into this par 4. Woods hit a six-iron—which usually goes about 200 yards—right at the flag, finishing 18 feet below the hole. His uphill, right-to-left effort didn't have enough pace and finished just left of the hole. A tap-in par. 

Woods has struck the ball well early. It's been mostly his short game that has let him down, and virtually all the damage was done on that first hole. He appears to be in the rhythm of the round now but really put himself behind the eight-ball with that triple-bogey. Still, a ton of golf left, and he'd do well to turn in three-over. 

Hole 5, par 5: Birdie, +3 for the day 

That's more like it! Tiger hit another good driver down the right side of the fairway, leaving about 250 yards into the 585-yard par 5. He went with a long iron for his second and it finished just short of the green in a good spot to pitch from (wouldn't that have been nice on the first hole?), and he hit his third to four feet. A confident putting stroke resulted in a dead-center birdie, his first of the day.

After a disastrous start, Woods has steadied the ship a bit. 

Hole 4, par 4: Par, +4 for day 

If there's been a positive in these first four holes, it's been his play off the tee. Tiger hit another driver that just barely missed the fairway, and he appears to be swinging that club with control. His approach went long and left of the green, but his pitch was fantastic, leading to a tap-in par. After the rocky start, two pars in a row is what the doctor ordered. Let's see if he can make a birdie on the par-5 5th to get in the rhythm of the round. 

Hole 3, par 4: Par, +4 for day 

Woods' first driver of the day was a good one, finding the center of the fairway on this 510-yard hole. His approach shot landed just left of the flag and rolled out to the back of the green, leaving about 18 feet for birdie. Once again his putt didn't scare the hole, but he'll take a steady par after that start. 

Hole 2, par 3: Bogey, +4 for day

The second hole at Shinnecock is an uphill, 250-yard par 3 with a left-to-right wind. Woods hit a two iron that started left of the green but rode the wind and landed near the front. Because it came in with a low flight, it did not hold the putting surface, finishing just long of the green but puttable. Woods's first effort from about 50 feet was a good one, leaving himself four feet for par, but he made a very tentative stroke and the ball never scared the hole. 

That's a four-over start. There's still a ton of time left, of course, but the U.S. Open is not an event where you want to be chasing birdies. You simply can't afford to fall behind, and that's exactly what Woods has done early in his round. Perhaps more troubling than the score are the two poor putting strokes to start the day. 

Hole 1, par 4: Triple Bogey, +3 for day

An absolutely disastrous start for the three-time U.S. Open champion, especially considering where he hit his tee shot. Woods found the fairway with a driving iron then airmailed a short iron woefully long of the green. This despite a back pin that gave players plenty of green to work with short of the flag. Woods's first flop shot attempt landed short of the pin then rolled back down a slope—this will happen all week, as the areas around Shinnecock's greens are mowed down. He then attempted to putt up the slope, but once again the ball didn't get nearly far enough and rolled back down to his feet. He overcompensated on the next putt, leaving himself seven feet for double-bogey, a putt he missed on the right side. 

That's a triple to start the U.S. Open for Woods, who is now 15-over par in his last 23 opening holes in the U.S. Open. 

Fashion watch

For those concerned, Tiger's rocking a navy shirt with grey pants.  It's a warm day here in Southampton, but the persistent breeze is keeping things from getting too warm. 

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)