A roar, ripple and lots of trouble at No. 1

Monday June 16th, 2008

You knew he was coming before you could see him. As Tiger Woods walked through the funnel of fans from the putting green to the first tee, the roar increased with his every step and exploded in a crescendo when Woods entered the arena. Lee Westwood was waiting for him. The Englishman had arrived two minutes earlier to a polite ripple.

He was smiling and chatting with USGA officials. Westwood, who has played in the pressure-packed atmosphere of five Ryder Cups, didn't look intimidated. He walked confidently across the tee box and shook Tiger's hand. There were smiles and "good lucks" from both players — then they turned away, the smiles disappeared, and they were back into their serious game-faces.

"Happy Father's Day, Tiger!" yelled a woman from the gallery. Westwood has two children, but no one yelled.

Then it was down to business. Lee's drive went way, way right. It landed in the rough on the upslope of the fairway bunker. Tiger went way, way left. His shot landed on a trampled-down path between the first hole and the sixth. By the time they had hacked to the green, the final group of the U.S. Open had played the first hole like a couple of 18-handicap hackers playing in a weekend Stableford scramble.

Double bogey for Tiger, bogey for Lee, and an ugly start to final round.

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