US Open golf: Tiger Woods pleased with his US Open start
TIGER Woods made his best start to a US Open for a decade yesterday – and Phil Mickelson his joint worst in 22 appearances at the championship.
Woods, his confidence back after victory in the Memorial tournament two weeks ago, posted a one-under-par 69 at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.
It put him in joint-second place, three strokes behind surprise early clubhouse leader Michael Thompson, a qualifier who was runner-up in the US Amateur on the course five years ago.
Mickelson, however, lost a ball up a tree with his opening drive and struggled to a 76, while Masters champion Bubba Watson – the other member of the star morning group – fared even worse with a 78.
As for China’s 14-year-old Andy Zhang, the youngest player ever to compete in the event and called up only on Monday when England’s Paul Casey pulled out injured, he began triple-bogey, double-bogey and needed a birdie on the last just to break 80.
World top three Luke Donald, defending champion Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood, the feature group of the afternoon, dropped four shots between them on the 520-yard par-4 first.
Westwood was the one to double bogey after a chip came back to his feet and they probably all sensed that the round, indeed the entire week, was about damage limitation.
Woods said: “I played well – I felt like I had control of my game all day and stuck to my gameplan.
“We knew it (the course) was going to be quick, but we didn’t think it was going to happen overnight.
“I was really, really surprised how much it changed – it was just like they used sub-air on the whole place and you had to make adjustments. I was very pleased with every facet of my game and I stayed very patient.”
Mickelson said: “I didn’t play very well obviously. It was a tough day playing the way I did and three-putting the fourth really hurt. I’ve got a tough challenge just to get to the weekend. I will see if I can shoot under par - maybe that will get me there.
“Tiger struck it really well. He had real solid control of his flight and trajectory.”
As for losing his opening shot he said: “It must have stayed up because nobody saw it.”
For most of the day Woods, who has not added to his 14 majors since the third of his US Open victories four years ago, was supremely impressive on one of the toughest lay-outs in golf.
Missing the green on the 419-yard 14th – his sixth – was his first mistake and after bogeying there he came back with a two-putt birdie at the 522-yard 17th.
The opening six-hole stretch is the one that really sorts the men out from the boys – just ask Zhang – but Woods sank curling birdie putts of nine and 30 feet at the fourth and fifth. He described the second of those as “a fluke – that putt was off the green”.
It might have been better. He missed from barely four feet at the second, but then came another bogey after he found sand on the sixth.
Mickelson, five times a runner-up, began last year by hitting his first shot into water and this time had to take the long walk back to the tee after his hooked drive was lost high up in the branches somewhere.
Although he made birdie with his second ball, it was the start of three successive bogeys.
He was actually the first of the trio to grab a birdie – it came on the 199-yard 13th – but more bogeys were quickly to follow and it will now take a monumental effort for him to get back into contention.
Watson’s second shot from the rough moved only a few yards and by the time he double-bogeyed the 344-yard 18th – his tenth of the day – he was already five over.
“The course beat me up today. It’s a lot better than I am – it beat me by eight. It’s disappointing and it doesn’t matter what tournament it is.”
(USA unless stated, par 70)
66 Michael Thompson
69 Tiger Woods, David Toms
70 Robert Karlsson (Swe), Alistair Presnell (Aus), Beau Hossler, J B Park (Kor), Jason Bohn
71 Francesco Molinari (Ita), Michael Allen, Martin Flores, Branden Grace (Rsa), Jonathan Byrd
72 D.A. Points, Robert Garrigus, Fredrik Jacobson (Swe), Charles Howell III, Webb Simpson, Raphael Jacquelin (Fra)
73 Charl Schwartzel (Rsa), Kyle Stanley, Steve Le Brun, Davis Love III, Joe Ogilvie, Keegan Bradley, Marc Warren (Sco), K J Choi (Kor)
74 Rodney Pampling (Aus), K.t. Kim (Kor), Tim Herron, Matthew Baldwin (Eng), Kevin Na, Bob Estes, Gregory Bourdy (Fra), Rafael Cabrera Bello (Spa), Y.E. Yang (Kor), Tommy Biershenk, Stephen Ames (Can), Padraig Harrington (Irl)
75 Retief Goosen (Rsa), Colt Knost, Scott Piercy, Hiroyuki Fujita (Jpn), Paul Claxton, Vijay Singh (Fij), Robert Rock (Eng), Alexander Noren (Swe), Carl Pettersson (Swe)
76 Phil Mickelson, Scott Langley, Adam Scott (Aus), Anthony Summers (Aus), Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Jones (Aus), Matt Bettencourt, Edward Loar, Kevin Streelman, Mark Wilson
77 Zach Johnson, Sang-moon Bae (Kor), Hunter Hamrick, Dong-Hwan Lee (Jpn), Tim Clark (Rsa)
78 Tim Weinhart, Scott Smith (Aus), Bubba Watson, George Coetzee (Rsa), Toru Taniguchi (Jpn), Peter Hanson (Swe), Thomas Bjorn (Den), Bo Van Pelt, Nick Sherwood, Shane Bertsch
79 Andy Zhang (Chn)
80 Cole Howard, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Spa)
82 Mark McCormick
84 Steve Marino
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
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Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
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