Cheyenne Woods struggled throughout the first round of the 2014 U.S. Women's Open Championship as she carded just as many double bogeys as birdies en route to an eight-over 78 on Thursday.
Woods has spent most of the season on the developmental Symetra Tour as she attempts to earn a place on the LPGA Tour. She did earn the biggest victory of her young career in February by capturing the Australian Ladies Masters, an ALPG Tour and Ladies European Tour event.
One way to earn a spot on the LPGA Tour is to win one of its events. Things certainly don't look promising after the opening round as Pinehurst No. 2 is providing a serious test. A strong rebound performance in the second round could at least get her back in the mix for a competitive finish.
Here's a look at the leaderboard at the time of Woods completing her round, with a full leaderboard available at USOpen.com.
|T-3||So Yeon Ryu||-1|
|T-6||Candie Kung||E (through 17)|
|T-6||Stephanie Meadow||E (through 16)|
|T-6||Mina Harigae||E (through 16)|
USOpen.com; As of 7:12 p.m. ET on Thursday (play suspended due to inclement weather)
Day 1 Recap
Woods' day got off to an inauspicious start as she carded a bogey on the opening hole. Those are usually tough to overcome as players spend the entire week visualizing one thing and then one hole in they are already moving in the wrong direction.
She did a nice job to keep things from getting totally out of hand early, though. She was able to post back-to-back pars after the bogey. Despite Martin Kaymer's terrific display when the PGA Tour played on the same course last week, it's a very challenging journey.
The USGA sent out the hole locations golfers were dealing with on Thursday, which showcase the tough approach shots necessary to succeed:
Woods was able to get back even on the fourth as she picked up her first birdie of the tournament. Coming into the week, staying around par was the goal to remain competitive, just as it was for the men before Kaymer ran away with the title.
"The key will be just trying to stay patient U.S. Open courses are always very tough, and Pinehurst with the restorations, the course is awesome. It's going to be a challenge and a great test for us."
Unfortunately for Woods, the shot she picked up at No. 4 was given back on the very next hole, which started a frustrating stretch.
She ended up with four pars, three bogeys and a double bogey during an eight-hole span after getting back to even par. She dropped from a top-10 position to outside the top 30.
Can Woods turn it around on Day 2?
The Wake Forest product struggled to her second double bogey of the back nine at No. 16. It's possible to overcome some bogeys at Pinehurst given the difficulty of the course, but a pair of doubles on the same nine will doom any round.
She proceeded to finish her round with two more bogeys. There was a brief opportunity for her to turn things around after the birdie at No. 13, but she couldn't capitalize. Then it was all downhill until the end.
If nothing else, Laura Keeley of the Charlotte Observer noted Woods seemed to have a good rapport with her playing partners:
The women golfers have a lot more camaraderie than the men. Juli Inkster has been telling Cheyenne Woods & Natalie Gulbis stories all round— Laura Keeley (@laurakeeley) June 19, 2014
Looking ahead, Woods has to forget about winning the tournament at this point. She must hone in on eliminating those round-destroying mistakes and making steady progress throughout the second round so she can make the cut.
This experience can turn into a positive one if she at least makes the cut and plays average or better golf for the final three rounds. It won't be easy, but it's the goal she should set after an opening 18 holes to forget at Pinehurst No. 2.
Day 2 Recap
Unfortunately for Woods, Day 2 wasn't any brighter than her first 18 at Pinehurst. The 23-year-old was unable to make the cut as she followed up her 78 from Day 1 with a 75 on Day 2.
Starting off on No. 10, Woods was able to get off to a better start than Day 1. She bogeyed just one of her first six holes as it looked like she may be able to climb up the leaderboard and play deep into the weekend.
However, Woods' game would fade as the round went on. A development that may have been exacerbated by rainy conditions on the course, as noted by Laura Keeley of the Charlotte Observer:
Legit pouring at Pinehurst right now. Drink it up, greens— Laura Keeley (@laurakeeley) June 20, 2014
Bogeys on 16 and 17 would put her at three-over par on the back nine.
Making the turn, Woods eventually showed a little more consistency than she did on Thursday. She carded three consecutive pars on the final nine holes before bogeying three of the next four. She gained a stroke back by birdieing the three par No. 9, but it was too little too late as she finished T-99 on the leaderboard.
Looking ahead, Woods should walk away happy that she improved her score from Round 1 to Round 2. But this trip out makes it clear that she's still doesn't quite have the game needed to compete in major championships just yet.
After failing to make the cut in her second trip to the US Open in the last three years, Woods will need to improve her game in smaller tournaments before being a major competitor.