Woods Finishes Opening 73, Shrugs Off Injury Questions

Tiger Friday Morning Round One

Tiger Woods failed to make a par from thick greenside rough at the par-3 17th hole en route to a 3-over 73 in the first round. (USGA/Joel Kowsky)

Friday, June 14, 2013

ARDMORE, Pa. – Tiger Woods played his last six holes Friday morning in one over par to complete an opening round of 3-over-par 73 at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa.

That had to be considered the good news.

On the debit side of the ledger as he begins  his second round of the 113th U.S. Open is that he still isn’t putting well, his left arm is a question mark after wincing in pain several times Thursday after swinging, and he trails longtime rival Phil Mickelson, the leader after round one, by six strokes.

Woods failed to break par in the first round of the U.S. Open for the sixth time in his last seven starts, the exception being last year at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, Calif., when he opened with a 1-under 69 before finishing in a tie for 21st. In 64 U.S. Open rounds, Woods has failed to break par 36 times, and he has never won a major championship when he has started as high as three over par.

When he claimed the last of his 14 major titles in the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course near San Diego, Woods opened with a 1-over 72. In his other two U.S. Open victories – 2000 at Pebble Beach and 2002 at Bethpage State Park’s Black Course – he opened with rounds of 65 and 67, respectively.

Whether or not he can muster a rally this time might depend on his health. He appeared to hurt his left arm after playing a shot from deep rough on the first hole Thursday. He grimaced again after a 5-wood approach from  the rough at the fifth hole.

Woods admitted feeling pain, but dismissed it as a factor. “My left arm didn’t feel good on a few shots … It is what it is and you move on,” said the No. 1 player in the world.

“Overall, it was not too bad a round. I certainly had two three‑putts and a boatload of putts, and the round could have easily been under par. So that's good heading into this afternoon.”

Dave Shedloski is an Ohio-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on usopen.com.

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