The difference between the U.S. Open and any other golf tournament on the calendar is that at this event, you have a sense of helplessness. The high rough, the fast greens and at Merion, the weather, have all played in to making the afternoon guys on Thursday the group that will regret their draw when this thing wraps up.
Tiger Woods is one of those players that was forced to go out late on Thursday and come out early on Friday to try and complete his first round, and nothing really went right from the start for Tiger.
A three-putt bogey on his first hole of the tournament set the tone, and while he has sprinkled in some birdies throughout his round, including one on the short par-3 13th when play resumed on Friday morning, it's been an uphill climb for the world No. 1.
So what is the difference in Tiger this week, and the one at Memorial, versus the guy we've seen win four times already this season on tour? The short game is the first thing that comes to mind.
Besides this bomb he was able to drop on the 6th hole, it was a battle with the short stick throughout his opening round. His speed was off on Thursday, ramming putts through the break when that wasn't necessary, and when he wasn't doing that it was shots that were simply out of position, like his tee shot on the par-3 17th. His touch around the greens was also nonexistent to start his tournament, hitting some poor chips from decent lies around the greens to set up bogeys.
The good news for Woods is that a round of 3-over 73 isn't the end of the world. Sure, Phil Mickelson sits at 3-under, making the early gap six shots, but it will be a marathon on this golf course over the next 54 holes and guys must understand that even a round of 1-over is going to be good at this point on Merion.
Woods and company (Rory McIlroy shot a similar 73 as Adam Scott is in with 72) were victims of some tough conditions and a tough draw that saw them wait around all day to play golf on Thursday only to come out Friday in miserable Philadelphia conditions. Now they will be forced to come back out fairly quickly for their second round, and hopefully the cobwebs that seem to have wrapped themselves around Tiger's golf game can be shaken and he can post a number that guarantees him a spot at this U.S. Open over the weekend.
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