So close, yet so far: Woods stumbles late to finish four-over par


FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — The rain-shortened first day of the U.S. Open meant many players had to play more than 18 holes on Friday. Tiger Woods was glad he wasn’t one of them.

“No, I don’t want to go back out there,” Woods said. “I probably would be a few clubs lighter.”

In other words, his temper might have gotten the best of him. And that’s understandable considering the sudden way his first round turned sour Friday morning.

Shooting even par entering the 15th hole, Woods entered the clubhouse about an hour later 4-over.

Ten minutes later, he was still shaking his head and wondering what happened.

“I wasn’t playing poorly,” Woods said. “That’s the thing. I was even par with four to go. I was right where I need to be. Two bad shots and a mud ball later, here we go . . . four-over par.”

Woods’ round — which actually began at 8:06 on Thursday morning and was suspended while on the seventh green because of the rain — took its turn for the worse Friday morning when he double bogeyed the par-4, 459-yard 15th hole.

Earlier this week Woods said that was the toughest hole at Bethpage Black, and here he showed why.

Off the tee he missed the fairway by a good 30 to 40 yards to the right, landing just maybe 15 feet in front of the rows of fans who followed Woods from hole to hole.

Because the green is elevated significantly, it would have been understandable if Woods simply pitched his ball to the edge of the fairway and worked from there. But Woods has always been the aggressive type.

“I had a great lie there,” he said. “I went for it.”

Woods’ shot cleared the bunker but wasn’t high enough to reach the green, landing in the short but steep stretch of rough in between. Because the ball was too deep in the rough and unplayable, Woods was allowed a free drop. He couldn’t capitalize, however, as he hit a chip shot that was near the pin only to roll all the way back to the edge of the green.

And it didn’t help matters that he needed three putts to complete the hole.

Woods followed that by bogeying the 16th, which was thanks to a poor second shot that left him just off a bunker and another missed putt from within three feet for the second straight hole.

On that hole, Woods’ second shot had the distance to land on the green, but it sliced right. That happened, he said, because there was mud on the ball, the third time he dealt with a muddy ball in his round.

Woods missed a birdie putt on the 17th then bogeyed 18 after his tee shot landed in a bunker, a fitting end to a round that Woods knows should have been much better than 4-over.

“I have to continue what I’m doing,” he said, “and hopefully clean up the round a little bit.”