U. S. Open 2012: Tiger Woods in Position to Win No. 15

Fred Altvater@@tolohgolfrContributor IIJune 14, 2012

Tiger Woods shot a one under-par 69 in the first round of the U. S. Open
Tiger Woods shot a one under-par 69 in the first round of the U. S. OpenHarry How/Getty Images

Tiger Woods did exactly what major champions do on the first day of the tournament.

He hit 10 of 14 fairways, 11 of 18 greens and took 29 putts.

Woods was in complete control of his game.  He had a game plan, stuck to it, and hit precision shots to make it happen.

Tiger's latest comeback started last fall in Australia.  He had a solid showing in the Australian Open the week prior to the Presidents Cup Matches at Royal Melbourne.

He played well in the Presidents Cup, posting an impressive singles win over Aaron Baddeley.

Tiger won his own little invitational—the Chevron World Challenge, holding off Zach Johnson in the final round.  

He played okay in Abu Dhabi, and then hit the wall in the final round of the AT&T National Pro-Am.  He fired a very forgettable 75 on Sunday when grouped with Phil Mickelson, who shot a 64 and won the tournament.

Tiger found his game for an instant, shooting a 62 in the final round of the Honda Classic, putting a little scare into eventual winner Rory McIlroy.

He has won twice this year—the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Memorial.  He also tied Jack Nicklaus at 73 career PGA Tour wins along the way.

In between the two wins however, he missed the cut at the Wells Fargo and posted T-40 at the Players and the Masters.

Tiger's game this year has been one step forward and two steps back.

His performance at the Memorial was reminiscent of the old Tiger Woods.  He hit fairways, striped irons, made unbelievable chip shots and rolled in the needed putt.

Tiger Woods is controlling all aspects of his golf game, and he has regained the confidence that won him 73 PGA Tournaments and 14 majors.

His three birdie, two bogey first round at Olympic Club is exactly what old Tiger would do.

Play conservative the first two rounds and don't shoot yourself out of the event; stay in touch with the leaders, but don't take any unnecessary risks.

It was a classic Tiger Woods performance on Thursday.

He may have just taken the first step to accomplishing the real career goal—surpassing the 18 major titles held by Jack Nicklaus.