All eyes were on Tiger Woods for this morning’s conclusion of the rain-interrupted first round. The world No1 looked to be nursing a wrist injury — possibly sustained as early as the first hole — as yesterday’s action drew to a close, but refused to be drawn on the subject overnight, opting instead to issue a charateristically terse dismissal of the subject through USGA channels.
If that was calculated to avert a frenzy of media speculation, things didn’t quite go according to plan.
Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee took to the airwaves to sound a slightly hysterical note. He placed blame for the alleged injury on the demands of the Foley swing, that exaggerated bend from the hips, and not a lack of conditioning attendant on Tiger’s decision to forego single life:
“One of the most shocking things I have seen in the last couple of weeks is just how short Tiger Woods’ golf swing has gotten. When you combine that with a little bit of a bow in the left wrist and the quick change in direction, he is setting himself up for stress with that left wrist.” (via G-Shack)
The scene was set, then, for a massive anticlimax.
Woods returned to the course this morning to carve a ragged, but essentially unremarkable, path to the clubhouse. Two-over-par at the commencement of play, he covered the final seven holes in 27 shots to sign for an opening 73 (+3) and share of 51st place.
- Phil Mickelson (67), whose decision to attend an eighth-grade graduation on the eve of the tournament still looks inexplicable, will almost certainly end the round in sole possession of the lead. [Yeah, yeah – family, parenting, blah…]
- Former world No1 and short game maestro Luke Donald missed a five-foot par putt on his closing hole — the beastly, 500-yard 18th — to record a two-under-par 68.
- Holywood’s finest, Rory McIlroy, struck the ball more cleanly than his playing partners — Woods and Masters champion Adam Scott (72) — but felt the wrath of Merion’s closing holes. A 73 was his reward for a back nine of 38.
- The amatuer contingent impressed on “Doomsday”: Ireland’s Kevin Phelan carded a 71, while Cheng Tsung Pan and Michael Kim signed for 72 and 73, respectively.
[Note: At the time of publication, 10:37am, a number of leaders have still to complete their first rounds, among them, Matthew Goggin (-2) and Russell Knox (-1)]