U.S. Open Golf 2010: Why Tiger Woods Struggled on Day One

Chris Trapasso@ChrisTrapassoAnalyst IJune 18, 2010

PEBBLE BEACH, CA - JUNE 17:  Tiger Woods chats with his caddie Steve Williams on the first green during the first round of the 110th U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links on June 17, 2010 in Pebble Beach, California.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

It certainly wasn't the worst way to open a major, but with an increasing amount of concern and doubt surrounding him, Tiger Woods' three-over 74 in Round One on Thursday won't scare anyone in the 156-man field.

Woods was seemingly in his now-usual grind mode, laboring for pars, while rarely having a legitimate chance to knock in a birdie.

He did have 15 of those pars, but he didn't record a single birdie for the first time in a major since the Masters in 2003.

Hitting 10 of 14 fairways and knocking it onto 12 of 18 greens is respectable, especially when we've seen much worse from the World's No. 1 golfer latley.

Those numbers usually lead to a lower score for Woods, even at a extremely challenging venue like the re-vamped Pebble Beach.

So why, you ask, did Woods struggle on Day One?

Oddly, it's the one area of his game that has been the least sporadic—his putter.

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No doubt about it, these poa annua greens resemble the local municipal courses's greens more than what you're accustomed to at a major.

However, they are U.S. Open-slippery, and give the ball a bumpy ride, but Woods really made a mediocre 34-putt round look much worse. 

Back in 2000 at Pebble, in a four-day stretch of dominance never before seen in sports history (and I'm not sure if we'll ever see again), Woods didn't three-putt all week. Yesterday, Woods three-jacked on two separate occasions.

"It is what it is. It's poa, and they're fast. You know they're going to be bouncing all over the place, and you can't leave yourself a second putt," Tiger said during a dissapointed press conference. "There's no one making a lot of putts out there. You just can't. The afternoon guys can't. The morning guys have a chance."

Whether Tiger is on to something there or just is searching for more excuses to cover up his un-Woods like play, he simply has to sink some of those testers.

Over the years, when Woods lined up to those eight to 12 footers, rarely did I watch—he was that automatic.

You know what I'm talking about, those putts that have seemingly always been in the back of the jar with Tiger—a birdie to get the round rolling, the par save after a sprayed tee shot, or the closer on 18 to end a spectacular round weren't there on Thursday and haven't been there for some time now. 

A short par attempt on nine went begging. Another at 16 missed low. On the par-five 18th, after a bad lay-up, he saw Ernie Els putt directly down his line, and once again missed on the low side.

Listen, I'm not crucifying Woods for missing on three par putts and a few birdie chances—after all, it is the U.S. Open. 

But if you told me Tiger hits 10 fairways on Thursday, I tell you he shoots, at worst, one-over.

He'll miss more of them, as will the rest of the field.

If Tiger hits the ball as well as he did during the first round throughout the rest of the tournament, which by no means was his finest ball-striking effort, you have to believe that ever-so clutch, unflappable, get-ready-for-my-fist-pump putter we've seen in the past will come alive and give Woods a real shot at his 15th major...right?

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