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Not Tiger's best, but good enough for now

Not if you want to win.

The U.S. Golf Association prides itself on making the Open a "thorough test" of golf. All that really means is that it's going to be four days of punishment. The fairways are narrow, the greens slick, and the thicker the rough, the better.

But Oakmont presents its own special test. The greens are particularly tricky, with putts going every which way. Normally, Woods said, players can put the ball below the hole and have a shot at making it. Do that at Oakmont, and the ball is off the green.

"You're going to have cross-green putts, downhill, triple breakers," Woods said. "It is what it is, and you've got to hang in there and hopefully putt well."

Woods started strong. After a bogey from the fairway bunker on No. 1, he made an uphill 15-footer to get the stroke back on the second hole. He saved par by curling in a 12-footer on No. 3, then made an 18-footer for another birdie on the sixth hole.

Then he ran into trouble.

On the par-3 No. 8, which was playing 261 yards Thursday, he dumped his tee shot in a bunker off the left edge of the green. He blasted out to 4 feet, but his par putt skirted the right edge of the cup and skittered along the back side, refusing to drop.

His shot on the par-4 10th sounded bad off the tee â€" and it was. It landed in deep rough behind the bunker, and he did well to get back into the fairway, even if it was short of the green. He had a 10-footer for par, but it rolled about a foot long.

Two holes later, the tricky Oakmont greens really got him. He had only a 15-footer for par, but there was a speed bump-like hump between him and the cup. He missed it, forcing him to take a bogey on the 667-yard par-5 and drop to 2 over.

"There was some scrappy stuff in the middle," said defending champion Geoff Ogilvy, who played with Woods. "But he rallied. He got the best out of his finish."

He worked for every bit of it, too. He ran a birdie putt 8 feet long on the par-3 16th, then made the comebacker to save par. On No. 17, he made birdie with a tricky, 3-foot downhill putt â€" miss it and the ball would have run another 15 feet.

He closed with a par on 18.

"That was a nice way to end the round," Woods said. "Basically, I could have lost three shots there, but I was able to keep it as is."

And keep himself in contention.

"That's what he does. He gets the best score of the day he can," Ogilvy said. "Not his best, but he's still in the tournament."

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