Tiger Woods shot ten-over 80 in the first round of the U.S. Open. It was unwatchable — it was just beyond a trainwreck, where you can’t help but stop to gawk, not to mention Woods’ poor play was compounded by that of his playing partners, Rickie Fowler and Louis Oosthuizen, who shot 81 and 77, respectively.
It was simply sad to feel like you were seeing one of golf’s greats hit what appeared to be rock bottom. The three shot a combined 28-over. But the story was Tiger (along with the bad condition of the greens).
“The hardest part is trying to leave yourself below the hole and you can’t because the putts coming down the hills are just — they’re tough to make, put it that way,” said Woods. “But the bright side is at least I kicked Rickie’s butt today.”
Well, at least he can find some humor in it, but all you can really do at the end of the day is laugh. Because it was absurd. Woods only beat two players, Rich Berberian Jr., an assistant club pro from New Hampshire, and Fowler.
Woods wasn’t thrilled with his ballstriking from the start.
“Not very happy, that’s for sure,” he said. “It was a tough day. I stuck that 6-iron in the ground on the first hole, and then just couldn’t quite get it turned around today.”
He almost managed to finish before he found his lowest point.
From the middle of the fairway on the par-5 18th, Woods cold-topped his second shot with a fairway wood into a bunker that shouldn’t come into play, dubbed “Chambers Basement” (and I tweeted earlier this week that you should quit professional golf if you hit it in there. Just watch (with caution).
Earlier in the round, Tiger’s drive ended up in the fescue and on his downswing the club got caught in the terrain and went flying out of his hands behind him.
Sadly, Woods didn’t think he could have posted a better score. This is the second time in his last three competitive rounds when he’s shot in the 80s. It’s also the highest score he’s ever shot at a U.S. Open.
“I fought, I fought hard,” said Woods. “And that was my number. I couldn’t grind out any harder than that. So that’s just the way I played and unfortunately it was a high number today.”
Woods basically admitted that this is the worse rut he’s ever encountered his career.
“It has, because I haven’t had enough — I haven’t played enough,” he said when asked if this was as rough a stretch as he’s ever endured. “I haven’t had a rhythm to play. I didn’t play much last year and I haven’t played much this year. Knee surgeries are pretty easy compared to a back surgery, the recovery time. And for some reason, it’s just a lot harder dealing with a nerve than a joint.”
So, is he still injured, or what does it all mean?
Woods was striking the ball well in practice, but he just can’t seem to translate it onto the course.
“It’s one of those things, just got to work through it,” he said when asked if he had been hitting it well on the range. “I’m trying as hard as I can to do it, and for some reason I just can’t get the consistency that I’d like to have out there.”
Finally, his parting words: “Keep working. Keep grinding and keep working.”