Since I’m waiting out the gridlock traffic in the media center, I might as well toss up a gratuitous post on Tiger Woods, your tournament host. Anyone catch the coverage today, anyway? I’m guessing some of you were more interested in the DVR’d Irish Open, Wimbledon and/or the Euro soccer semifinals.
Well, you didn’t miss too much in the first round of the AT&T National. As you’ve heard, the U.S. Open that didn’t happen last year is taking place this week at Congressional Country Club.
Tiger shot a ho-hum one-over 72 to trail 18-hole leader Bo Van Pelt by five strokes. He didn’t do anything excellent, but the glaring weakness that cost him was his bunker play.
“I didn’t hit it that bad today,” said Woods, who is currently tied for 30th. “I just didn’t get a lot out of my round, a couple short game shots on the back nine out of those bunkers, a lot of sand in those bunkers and we have to hit the ball a little bit closer to it, and I didn’t do that, and I stuck too many of them in the ground.”
Wait, so what’s the issue?
“There’s so much sand in these bunkers,” he said. “There’s just a lot of sand in them. My 60 is not built for this much sand, not designed for that, designed for less sand, so I have to make an adjustment and hit the ball a little bit closer, make sure I hit a little bit closer to the golf ball, and I just didn’t do it.”
Yeah, those were pretty ugly bunker shots on Nos. 15 and 16, where he knocked them to 14 and 30 feet, respectively.
Woods, who admitted his short game had hurt him recently in his pre-tourney presser, said despite the poor bunker play, he was pleased overall around the greens.
“Otherwise it was actually pretty good,” he said. “I had to get up‑and‑down quite a bit today.”
After he striped his first tee shot, Tiger didn’t hit another fairway until No. 8. He straightened out his drives coming in, though.
Oh, don’t blame Tiger for the difficult course setup and firm conditions. He’ll give feedback on how he’d like to see things before the tournament week starts, but once it does, as a player and a competitor, he stays out of it.
Due to the springy greens, he tended to fire a little away from the pin, even if he had a sand wedge in his hands.
“It’s very similar to what we played at Olympic,” said Tiger, referring to the U.S. Open a few weeks ago. “It’s survival. The ball will bounce as high as it flies on some holes. It’s an adjustment we all have to make.”
He also agreed with other guys that Congressional played like a major championship on Thursday.
“It did,” said Tiger, who missed the 2011 U.S. Open due to injury. “It’s certainly, I think, a little retribution for what happened last year. Don’t be mad at me, I didn’t play.”
However, the setup is different because there’s no graduated rough, making it arguably more challenging if you’re not accurate off the tee.
“If it’s not in the fairway then it’s in the deep stuff,” he said. “So it’s a different setup. It’s hard and fast, and we have to be careful a lot of times, and when you have an opportunity to be aggressive, better do it.”
It’ll be interesting to see how the course plays the next three days, especially in the afternoon. If you’ve got a morning tee time, take advantage of it before the greens bake out!
(Getty Images/Rob Carr)