Tiger endures up-and-down day, as knee proves a pain
TIGER Woods admitted his left knee was still bothering him as he returned to action to overcome a poor start and post a one-over-par 72 in the opening round of the US Open.
Playing his first competitive round since undergoing surgery after April's Masters, Woods countered two double bogeys with three birdies, yet looked unsteady at the 18th tee.
"Didn't feel very good," said Woods, who had a pained look on his face despite blasting a tee shot over 350 yards down the middle of the fairway and needing only a 7-iron to reach the green on the 573-yard hole.
Woods said before the tournament that he would not know he would respond to competition. "I guess I don't need a cart yet," the 32-year-old Woods joked after walking 18 holes for the first time since he had arthroscopic surgery two days after finishing second at the Masters. "It's a little sore."
Woods said his discomfort was more severe during the Masters than in yesterday's five-hour tour of Torrey Pines. "Two totally different pains," he said. "The cartilage was in there flying around and they took that out. So that relieves it."
Woods, winner of the 2000 and 2002 US Opens and 11 other major titles, said he is taking anti-inflammatories for his knee and would continue to be treated after the round.
"I'm in good shape," he said, referring to how his 72 kept him in contention after an inauspicious start.
Woods started with a double bogey after pulling his opening tee shot way left into the rough, but was most unhappy about sending his wedge shot over the green. "I had all the room short of the hole and I fly it past the hole. That's just a terrible mistake," he said. "We're all going to make mistakes out here. He added: "You couldn't ask for a worse start than I got, six on the very first hole out of the gate. I figured you're going to make bogeys out here, I just happened to make two on the very first hole. So, just be patient, long way to go. We're all going to make mistakes out there.
"I wanted to get to even par as fast as I could and then try and get to under par for the day," added Woods, who was grouped in a dream trio with world No 2 Mickelson and third-ranked Adam Scott of Australia. "And I did that. I got to under par at the turn and just didn't keep it there. To make two double-bogeys and a three-putt and only be four back, that's a great position to be in. I hit the ball pretty good all day, had a couple of misses left, but just need to clean up the round just a little bit."
After making a nightmare start in overcast conditions, Woods recovered to birdie the fourth, eighth and par-five ninth, where he struck a delicate lob wedge from tangly rough to four feet. Out in one-under 34, he made several par-saving putts from around 15 feet on the back nine, but marred his round by running up another double-bogey at the par-four 14th after driving into a bunker and twice coming up short of the green.
Watched by huge galleries and a media contingent of around 100, three-times major winner Phil Mickelson birdied the last for a 71 while world No3 Adam Scott returned a 73.
"It was not the best round," said Mickelson. "I made a couple mistakes early on, but the back nine I made some birdies. Anything around par is kind of your target for the US Open."
Justin Hicks, an unheralded American qualifier, upstaged the elite trio with six birdies in eight holes for a three-under 68 to edge one stroke clear early in the day. Scotland's Alastair Forsyth was one over after seven holes, and Colin Montgomerie four over after eight.
Hicks hits the high spots
UNHERALDED American qualifier Justin Hicks upstaged tournament favourites Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson by grabbing the early clubhouse lead in the US Open first round.
Nationwide Tour player Hicks, in only his second US Open, was helped by a run of six birdies in eight holes as he fired a three-under-par 68 in firm, fast-running conditions to edge one stroke clear
"For me, it's a great round," said Hicks. "I've never been able to say that I've been under par at a US Open before. I know that it's a marathon, not a sprint, and the goal is to keep playing good, steady golf and try to be standing here Sunday night."
SCOREBOARD (1 AM, BST)
68 Justin Hicks
69 Eric Axley, Rocco Mediate, Stuart Appleby (Aus)
70 Robert Karlsson (Swe), Lee Westwood (Eng), Rickie Fowler
71 Phil Mickelson, Patrick Sheehan, Andres Romero (Arg), Joe Ogilvie, Carl Pettersson (Swe)
72 Tiger Woods, Kyle Stanley, Oliver Wilson (Eng), Casey Wittenberg, Woody Austin
73 Nick Watney, Steve Stricker, Adam Scott (Aus), Matt Kuchar, Daniel Chopra (Swe), Derek Fathauer, Brett Quigley, Boo Weekley, Tim Clark (Rsa)
74 Rodney Pampling (Aus), Todd Hamilton, D.A. Points, Dustin Johnson, Michael Thompson, Anthony Kim, Fredrik Jacobson (Swe), Jim Furyk, KJ Choi (Kor), Rich Beem, Ryuji Imada (Jpn), Thomas Levet (Fra)
75 Jerry Kelly, Chris Kirk, Pat Perez, Sean English, Lee Janzen, Heath Slocum, Ben Crane, Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spa), Craig Parry (Aus), Tway Kevin
76 Peter Tomasulo, Dean Wilson, Joey Lamielle, David Hearn (Can), Jason Bohn
77 Mathew Goggin (Aus), Brad Bryant, Robert Garrigus, Shingo Katayama (Jpn), Jesper Parnevik (Swe)
78 Michael Campbell (Nzl), Soren Hansen (Den), Niclas Fasth (Swe), Steve Flesch, Jeff Wilson, Scott Piercy, Brian Kortan, Fernando Figueroa (Esa)
79 Johan Edfors (Swe)
80 Craig Barlow, Jordan Cox, Hunter Haas
81 Jeffrey Bors
82 Travis Bertoni
83 Yohann Benson (Can)
84 Chris Devlin (NIrl)
86 Mike Gilmore, Michael Quagliano, Brian Bergstol
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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