SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. — When he saw all the calamity play out before he teed off Thursday at Shinnecock Hills, Tiger Woods had a simple mantra for the first round of the U.S. Open: avoid the big numbers.
He was unable to do it.
Woods made a triple-bogey on the first hole, added two doubles on the back nine including a 4-putt green, had just a single birdie, and shot an 8-over-par 78 to finish nine strokes back of tournament co-leaders Dustin JohnsonRussell HenleyIan Poulter and Scott Piercy.
“It was pretty evident nobody was making any birdies in the morning,” Woods said. “Lots and lots of bogeys and higher and others. So my game plan was not to make any ‘others’ and I made three of them. So didn’t do very well there.”
Woods chuckled, resigned to his fate.The result leaves him in the position of fighting to make the cut — which will be for the top 60 players in ties — on Friday rather than working his way into contention. He is tied for 101st.
Much like two weeks ago at the Memorial Tournament, Woods hit plenty of good shots but was unable to get any putts to drop. He had 30 for the round, including an ugly 4-putt at the 13th green from 40 feet. He missed a par putt from 6 feet, then missed a 4-footer coming back and made double-bogey.
His worst two shots of the day came on the next hole, where he played from side to side and had a tough up and down to try and save a bogey — which he didn’t. It was the sixth time in Woods’ career that he made three double-bogeys or worse in a round.
The par-70 course yielded just four sub-par scores, and there were 27 at 80 and higher, including a score of 92. The scoring average was 76.149.
“It’s tough out there,” he said. “But I shouldn’t make two doubles and a triple. Four-putt. On No. 1, I hit it right through the wind and compounding my problem, I actually hit a really good flop shot. But the wind knocked it down. Then I hit two bad putts on 1 and 2. For most of the day, I just didn’t putt well.”
Woods’ triple-bogey 7 on the first set the tone. He also bogeyed the second when he missed a 4-footer for par. His only birdie came at the par-5 fifth, and he had a few other chances, notably on No. 8 where he knocked his approach to 6 feet and missed.
But the big turning point was the 13th. Woods was actually in decent shape at 4-over par with a par-5 upcoming. The four putts led to a crushing double.
“It was not very good,” Woods said about the first putt. “I was worried about running the putt by because it’s downhill on the other side. Left it short. Blocked the next one, and then blocked it again. Not very good.”
Woods was in danger of matching his highest score ever in a U.S. Open, which was 80 in the first round at Chambers Bay three years ago. That was also his last U.S. Open as he missed all of the major championships in 2016 and 2017 because of back issues.
But he settled down to par the remaining four holes, although he missed a birdie opportunity at the par-5 16th. Now in his 10th tournament of 2018, Woods has lamented his inability to put all parts of his game together, a continuing theme Thursday.
“It’s frustrating because I’m hitting the ball well,” he said. “In the last four tournaments, I have not putted well. So if I can putt like I did at the beginning of the year we’ve got something. I just haven’t done that.”
Woods has little time to figure it out. He tees off with Johnson and Justin Thomaswho shot 74, at 8:02 a.m. on Friday.