US Open 2013 Results: Grading Tiger Woods' Round 1 Performance at Merion
It was a long day for everyone at Merion Golf Club on Thursday, as every attempt was made to finish the first round of the U.S. Open around stormy weather. A good chunk of the field will be out early on Friday morning to complete that round and start the second.
Tiger Woods is in that group, as he has a four-foot putt for par on the 11th hole.
Obviously we can’t give him a complete grade, so what follows is an incomplete grade. He has some work to do to raise these grades early on Friday.
He had it all covered on this long day: short on a couple, long on a couple and dead-on at No. 6, where he rolled in a 50-footer for birdie.
Once again, it was a day that Woods never figured out the speed of Merion’s greens, and that is where he may be most vulnerable. He, more than any other elite player, complains about how difficult it is to come to grips with the speed of the greens.
Woods had birdie putts on the eighth and 10th holes but didn’t make either; however, he did have a couple of three-putts. The question to be answered over the next couple of days is: Is this a continuation of the Memorial-putting problems or more fretting with speed concerns?
Regardless of the club he used off the tee, Woods did not drive well.
He started with a 5-wood off the first tee and pushed it into the deep rough off the right side. The ball was so deep that when he hit his approach shot out of it, he shook his right hand and winced. But he also hit the ball into the fairway with the driver once, too. He took an iron off the 11th tee and missed the fairway. He knows he just can’t do that.
All in all, it was an average day at best.
The game plan for anyone playing in a major is simple: fairways, greens and keep the ball below the hole if you can. Obviously that’s easier said than done, and very few actually accomplish it.
On this day, Woods was only semi-successful in carrying out his plan. The 11 holes he almost finished were a mix of the good, bad and ugly. It was obvious he was committed to whatever plan he and caddie Joe LaCava had come up with because he never hesitated when it came to pulling clubs.
His problem was execution. He hit too many loose shots and not nearly enough of the ones he produces when he’s in the groove.
This part of the equation was tested before he could even get into the flow of the game. His first shot of the day landed in the deep rough right of the opening fairway. He grimaced visibly when hitting out of it.
He also missed another chip from behind the fifth green and reacted badly when he hit out of the rough on the 11th. Something like that can knock even an elite player off his game. But Woods kept things together and hung in there. When he goes out to finish the round on Friday morning, he’ll not be far from the top of the leaderboard.
He hit a great approach shot on No. 10 to three feet for an easy birdie. He also hit some amazing and squirrely pitch and chip shots. It was not typical of Tiger's usual play for the most part, and to be perfectly honest, it wasn’t much different than the rest of his game.
Coming into the U.S. Open, one of the things that had been so good in Woods’ game was the distance control on his irons, especially his scoring clubs. A few too many approach shots went just a little too long or just a little too much offline.
Grade : C
Whether he was nervous, uncomfortable or just never able to get things going, Woods did not look like a serious contender on Thursday. Nothing in his game excelled, and plenty of things were below average. Everything was just a bit off, and when he closed his eyes on Thursday night, he probably felt fortunate to be where he was on the scoreboard.
Two-over par through 11 holes is hardly spectacular, especially with those five killer closing holes looming. And if the hand/wrist/elbow injury is something that will bother him throughout the weekend, it could be tough for him.