DUBLIN, Ohio -- You may want to hold off conceding the U.S. Open trophy, or the Memorial Tournament title for that matter, to Tiger Woods.
Brisk winds wreaked havoc Friday at the Muirfield Village Golf Club, where Woods birdied two of his final five holes, his only birdies in the round, to shoot 74. He was at one-over-par 145, ten shots behind morning leader Bill Haas, who shot a superlative 67 in difficult, gusting conditions. The changing winds combined with Muirfield's lightning-fast greens to make scoring a challenge.
"The greens are so fast," said Jim Furyk, who clawed out a 70. "If the slope and the wind are behind you, I don't care how long or how short the putt is, it's all defense out there."
Woods, with four wins already this year, struggled on his opening nine. He teed off on the 10th hole, didn't birdie the reachable par-5 11th, bogeyed the 13th and then doubled the par-5 15th. He was just left of the green in two shots, pitched across to the far side and needed four more strokes, taking the last three putts from five feet.
From there he was able to birdie the two par 5s on the front nine, the fifth and seventh holes, before struggling to salvage a bogey at the ninth.
"A gust got me on 15," Woods said of his putting lapse. "The wind is moving all over the place, and it was moving balls. It was tough. You try to stay below the hole as best you can, but sometimes, you have to just get the ball on the green."
Woods acknowledged that he was simply trying to get under par for his round and by the second nine, just trying to get back to even par.
"All in all, it was a day fought hard," he said.
Asked if this was the toughest day he's seen at Muirfield Village, Woods joked, "Well, it's warm out. Usually, the wind blows like this and it's 40 degrees."
Woods missed only one fairway Friday and hit 10 greens in regulation, three fewer than in his opening-round 71. He said he wasn't worried about his game, and he doesn't feel as if he's out of contention yet.
"I'm not too disappointed," he said of his play. "I'm not that far off."
Haas turned in a remarkable round with five birdies, an eagle and two bogeys. He holed out from 65 feet from a greenside bunker for eagle at the par-5 fifth hole.
"That hole is playing downwind, so it's reachable for pretty much everybody in the field," said Haas. "Anytime you hole out from a bunker, a lot of things are going your way."
Perhaps a bigger break came at the par-5 11th hole. The wind was moving pretty hard right-to-left, and Haas thought his tee shot went out of bounds, so he played a provisional.
"We got out there and it must have hit a tree and it was fine," said Haas, who went on to make birdie. "That was probably a three-shot swing."
Haas, at 9-under 135 through 36 holes, has always had a good feeling about the Memorial, where he can remember caddying for his father, Jay, at least once and where he received a sponsor's exemption the first year he was a pro. He doesn't have a great track record in the event, but he has always enjoyed coming here.
This was his first taste of competition since his wife gave birth to a baby boy, William Harlan, on May 13.
"It was very difficult to leave home," he said. "But this is a tough week to skip. My wife is getting a bunch of help. My parents and her parents both live in town. I'm getting tons of pictures and videos, and I feel very informed with what's going on."
Coming here with a little more perspective as a new father may or may not have made a difference in his attitude.
"Part of me thought I wasn't going to get mad on the golf course but after that first bogey, I caught myself getting angry," he said. "But everybody out here gets fired up from mistakes. The best players, it doesn't seem to affect them."