SAN FRANCISCO — Standing in front of the assembled media following the first round of the U.S. Open, Bubba Watson proclaimed that the "old Tiger" had made an appearance at Olympic Club.
"Yeah, Tiger played pretty good," Watson said. "That was the old Tiger. It was beautiful to watch. That's what we all come to see ... that's what we all wanna watch. It was awesome to see him strike the ball like he did."
In the past, the term "old Tiger" used to imply winning majors in bunches. But on Thursday it actually had an entirely different meaning. Woods may be well into version 2.0, but he did something he used to do on an almost consistent basis when he was capturing majors, and that was post a solid opening round to get in the mix.
There was nothing spectacular about his 1-under 69; it consisted of some key par putts, a bunch of fairways and greens, and back-to-back birdies on Olympic Club's difficult six-hole opening stretch. But given how tough the course was playing, he didn't need a special round.
Leaving the driver in the bag for all but three holes, Woods made it a point to not get in trouble off the tee, pulling a 2-iron from his bag to keep it in play. It was a far cry from his playing partners Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson, who were in trouble and hacking it out of the rough on a consistent basis.
"I was just trying to execute my game plan," Woods said. "That was all I was trying to do today and I did that."
Hitting 10 of 14 fairways, 11 of 18 greens and 29 putts, Woods set the tone for an intriguing week. Coming into the U.S. Open, the big question was whether he could build on his momentum following his win at the Memorial.
After one day, it appears the answer is a resounding yes. As opposed to earlier in the year when he came off a win at Bay Hill and unraveled at the Masters, Woods admitted that the difference between the two wins was that he had confidence in his swing this time around.
That confidence was apparent during his round. Woods was able to execute every shot in his bag and looks primed for a big week at Olympic Club -- especially if he continues to stay patient and keeps the big numbers off his scorecard.
He did both of those things on Thursday. Consider it mission accomplished for Tiger Woods after one round of the U.S. Open.
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