Tiger grinds but fades at finish and stumbles to 73

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Tiger Woods grinded his way to a three-over par 73 in Thursday’s opening round of the 120th US Open, putting the 15-time major winner in jeopardy of missing the cut.

The inconsistent 44-year-old reigning Masters champion made six pars, six bogeys, five birdies and a closing double-bogey at Winged Foot, leaving him at risk of missing the cut for the third time in his past four US Open starts and fourth time in his career.

“It was a bit of ebb and flow to the round,” Woods said. “I did not finish off the round like I needed to. I made a bunch of putts in the middle part of the round.

“It seemed like most of my drives on the front nine landed in the fairway and ended up in bad spots, and I tried to stay as patient as possible, and unfortunately just did not finish off my round the way I needed to.”

World number 21 Woods has won a record 82 US PGA Tour titles, matching Sam Snead for the all-time record, and for a time he was fighting to make the most of a tough day.

Woods escaped a greenside bunker to six feet and made the par putt at the par-3 third, but made bogeys at the fourth and fifth before dropping his approach at the sixth to seven feet and sinking the par putt.

He made bogey at eight after finding dense rough off the tee, then responded with three birdies in a row.

Woods sank a 30-foot birdie putt at the par-5 ninth, followed with a 24-foot birdie putt at the par-3 10th and added a 19-foot birdie putt at the par-4 11th.

“The middle part of my round, a lot of things went my way,” Woods said. “Beginning part of the round it seemed like things weren’t going my way. Good tee shots ended up in the rough in bad spots, and I had a nice little hot run there in the middle part of my round.”

But at 17-foot birdie putt lipped out at the par-5 12th and the magic seemed to vanish with it.

Woods found a bunker at the par-3 13th to make bogey, went in deep rough at 14 on the way to another bogey and closed bogey-double bogey to fall from within reach of the leaders to well off the pace.

“Hit a really good putt at 12, thought it was going to go in and then I lipped it out, and then made two bogeys after that,” Woods said. “Didn’t finish off my round the way I needed to.”

– ‘Long way to go’ –

Woods had no complaints with the set-up at Winged Foot, which had light wind and receptive greens for early starters like Woods until the day heated up.

“The golf course was set up fantastic. What they did with the hole locations were very fair,” Woods said. “It gave us an opportunity to make some birdies, and you look at most of the scores, and the guys took advantage of it.

“I don’t see any reason why it won’t get harder and get more difficult. I just think that the golf course is there to be had. They gave us a lot of opportunities.”

Woods hasn’t ruled out taking advantage of them and getting back into the hunt.

“We have a long way to go. This is a long marathon of a tournament,” said Woods. “There’s a lot of different things that can go on.”

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