U.S. Open 2019: Tiger Woods shoots 70 in first round at Pebble Beach
Expectations for Tiger Woods were sky-high heading into this year’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Sure, he missed the cut at Bethpage Black after his stunning Masters victory, but his five-under-par final round at the Memorial (where he finished T-9) galvanized his supporters. And who could forget his epic performance in 2000? Oddmakers put Tiger at 10/1, further cementing his status as one of the favorites at Pebble Beach this week.
So on Thursday, in the first round of the Open at Pebble Beach, around three dozen players managed to get in the clubhouse under par, and Woods was among them. That’s the good news. It was also a bit of a woulda-coulda-shoulda day, which included a gut-wrenching double-bogey on the par-3 5th. Overall, Woods’ off-the-tee game was solid, and his putting was tremendous, but his iron play was not as sharp as we’ve seen in other events this year. Let’s start at the beginning.
Woods had a steady start with three straight pars. The first hole’s birdie putt was one roll from dropping, while Woods had to drain a 14-foot par save on No. 2 after an errant drive and second shot that came up short. No. 3 required another testy par save of nearly eight feet.
A 95-yard approach to inside four feet set up his first birdie of the day on No. 4, but disaster struck on the 188-yard par-3 5th, when a sharp hook off the tee nearly ended up in a backyard. His recovery went all the way across the green into another bunker, and he missed the ensuing nine-footer for par.
The double was a painful blow, but Woods carded two birdies in a row on Nos. 6 and 7 — the latter being the most impressive, draining a 23-footer to get back to one under on the day.
A ho-hum regulation par followed on No. 8, and a short approach on 9 was saved by a sweet up-and-down. Pars followed on the next five holes, highlighted by a sandy on No. 11, yet another up-and-down on 13, and a skulled approach over the green on No. 14. Again, he managed to save par by draining a 30-footer.
Two-putt pars followed at Nos. 15 and 16, and a poor shot on No. 17 required yet another up-and-down save from the front greenside bunker.
On 18, Woods hit his drive in the fairway and opted to go for the green from 255 yards out. His 5-wood found the back left greenside bunker, where his stance was stymied and he had to stand outside the bunker with the ball well below his feet. He got it out and two-putted for par. His one-under 70 trails Justin Rose’s lead by five shots. Woods tees off at 11:24 a.m. ET for Friday’s second round.
To receive GOLF’s all-new newsletters, subscribe for free here.