How Tiger hit it all over the place, still got himself in the U.S. Open mix

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Tiger Woods entered this U.S. Open as a favorite. Well, he’s Tiger Woods, so he’s usually among the favorites. But this week, it seemed, he had a distinct advantage, with short Pebble Beach not requiring many drivers and putting an emphasis on iron play. Woods is the best iron player on the planet.

He arrived here ranked No. 1 in greens in regulation. The question, though, was whether he could make some putts.

So, of course, in Thursday’s first round, everything went haywire. He missed irons short and long, left and right. And he made every putt at which he looked.

Somehow, he walked away with a 1-under 70, which puts him in a tie for 28th and five shots behind first-round leader Justin Rose.

“That was a grind,” Woods said.

Here’s how it happened. Go ahead, try and make sense of it. We dare you.

Setting up the day

As Tiger Woods gets set to start his U.S. Open, it’s worth noting his history of easing into major championships. With so many players under par — including big names like Fowler and McIlroy — he might not have that luxury this year at Pebble Beach. Needs a red number out of the gate if he’s going to be a factor.

Nick Pietruszkiewicz, ESPN.com10h ago

No. 1: Par 4, 380 Yards

Score: Par
Total for the day: Even

Tiger Woods with a stress-free opening hole at this U.S. Open. Easy swing with iron into the fairway, controlled approach to 15 feet below the hole, leaving the uphill putt he said he wants this week. All he needed, though, to make birdie was another half of a revolution. His putt hung on the lip, leaving a tap-in par.

Nick Pietruszkiewicz, ESPN.com10h ago

No. 2: Par 4, 516 Yards

Score: Par
Total for the day: Even

Tiger with a big save at No. 2. After a wild drive that caught the tall grass down the left side, forcing a pitch out, Woods drains a 15-footer to save par. During practice, he spent a lot of time this week on his putting. He hit a good one that didn’t go in at No. 1 and one that did on No. 2.

Nick Pietruszkiewicz, ESPN.com9h ago

No. 3: Par 4, 404 Yards

Score: Par
Total for the day: Even

So Tiger overly aggressive on his birdie putt at No. 3 — he somehow found a way to blast it 8 feet past the hole. But he made the comebacker. Good news? He’s made consecutive clutch par putts. Bad news? He’s had to work hard for par on two of his first three holes.

Nick Pietruszkiewicz, ESPN.com9h ago

No. 4: Par 4, 331 Yards

Score: Birdie
Total for the day: 1 under

Tiger stuffs his approach on No. 4. Knocks his approach to 4 feet and calmly rolls in the downhill putt. You have to get some birdies over the first seven holes at Pebble Beach if you are going to keep pace and Tiger just got his first.

Nick Pietruszkiewicz, ESPN.com9h ago

No. 5: Par 3, 195 Yards

Score: Double bogey
Total for the day: 1 over

Tiger just made an absolute mess on the fifth hole. Hits his tee shot at the par 3 off a cart path and turned it into a double bogey. So he quickly erased his birdie. While he was doing that, Brooks Koepka was up ahead making his fourth birdie in six holes.

Nick Pietruszkiewicz, ESPN.com9h ago

No. 6: Par 5, 523 Yards

Score: Birdie
Total for the day: Even

Tiger lessens the bad taste left by the double at No. 5 with a needed birdie at the par 5 sixth hole. The field is destroying that par 5, so Tiger, especially after his adventure the hole before, could not waste that scoring chance.

Nick Pietruszkiewicz, ESPN.com8h ago

No. 7: Par 3, 109 Yards

Score: Birdie
Total for the day: 1 under

Late in the day the greens at Pebble Beach get bumpy. No matter, Tiger’s hot putter stays hot. He bounces in a 22-footer on the the little par 3 seventh hole. So after the double at No. 5, that’s back-to-back birdies.

Nick Pietruszkiewicz, ESPN.com8h ago

No. 8: Par 4, 428 Yards

Score: Par
Total for the day: 1 under

The easy stretch of Pebble is behind Tiger Woods. On No. 8, the stretch that will really challenge this field, he makes a routine par. (In truth, he might have gotten away with a loose iron in the fairway). Still, par is par.

Nick Pietruszkiewicz, ESPN.com8h ago

No. 9: Par 4: 526 Yards

Score: Par
Total for the day: 1 under

It was far from a boring start. Tiger with three birdies and a double over his first nine holes. He turns in 1-under 34. Now, can he stay in red numbers on the more difficult back nine?

Nick Pietruszkiewicz, ESPN.com8h ago

No. 10: Par 4, 295 Yards

Score: Par
Total for the day: 1 under

Another poor shot with an iron by Woods at No. 10. An odd day, considering the strength of his iron game. The poor approach forced him to scramble to save par. He did it, but the iron game is putting some added stress on this round.

Nick Pietruszkiewicz, ESPN.com7h ago

No. 11: Par 4, 390 Yards

Score: Par
Total for the day: 1 under

Another awful iron shot from Tiger. He missed the green — badly — on No. 11 from just 114 yards. Of course, he almost holed out the ensuing bunker shot, hitting the flag. Another par saved, but another hole in which he had to do more work than he should have.

Nick Pietruszkiewicz, ESPN.com7h ago

No. 12: Par 3, 202 Yards

Score: Par
Total for the day: 1 under

Tiger plays it safe at No. 12, which is the exact right strategy at No. 12. The long par 3 has yielded just10 birdies — and Rory Sabbatini’s ace — all day. It’s a get-your-par-and-get-out-of-there kind of hole.

Nick Pietruszkiewicz, ESPN.com7h ago

No. 13: Par 4, 445 Yards

Score: Par
Total for the day: 1 under

Scrambling Tiger makes another appearance. That he is 1 under through 13 holes after the way he’s hit the ball Thursday is stunning. Hit a poor drive at the par 4 — and grumbled some not-so-nice words caught by the Fox broadcast — but navigated his way to another par.

Nick Pietruszkiewicz, ESPN.com7h ago

No. 14: Par 5, 580 Yards

Score: Par
Total for the day: 1 under

Scrambling Tiger makes another appearance. That he is 1 under through 13 holes after the way he’s hit the ball Thursday is stunning. Hit a poor drive at the par 4 — and grumbled some not-so-nice words caught by the Fox broadcast — but navigated his way to another par.

Nick Pietruszkiewicz, ESPN.com7h ago

No. 15: Par 4, 397 Yards

Score: Par
Total for the day: 1 under

Nice, simple, easy par for Tiger at No. 15. It almost feels strange saying it, since nothing has come easy in Thursday’s first round. It’s been a wild ride, and it’s not over yet.

Nick Pietruszkiewicz, ESPN.com6h ago

No. 16: Par 4, 403 Yards

Score: Par
Total for the day: 1 under

Is Tiger trying to ease to the finish line? After a safe par at No. 15, he makes another at the 16th. He’d love nothing than another routine par at No. 17.

Nick Pietruszkiewicz, ESPN.com6h ago

No. 17: Par 3, 208 Yards

Score: Par
Total for the day: 1 under

Tiger overcomes another poor iron shot, dumping it into the front bunker at the par 3 17th. Again, though, he wiggles from, getting up and down to salvage another par. This round could have gone sideways so many times.

Nick Pietruszkiewicz, ESPN.com5h ago

No. 18: Par 5, 542 Yards

Score: Par
Total for the day: 1-under 70

Nothing about Tiger Woods’ round was simple, so why would the last hole be any different? A good drive, then a wayward approach, leaves an awkward, feet-outside-the-bunker, ball-in-the-sand third shot. His blast leaves a two-putt par and he walks off with one of the strangest rounds of 1-under 70 you’ll ever see.

Nick Pietruszkiewicz, ESPN.com5h ago

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