Tiger Woods grinds it out to remain in the hunt at US Open

 nypost.com  06/14/2019 09:46:00   George Willis

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif.  Nineteen years ago, Tiger Woods made golf look easy when the U.S. Open was played at Pebble Beach. On Thursday, it was a grind as Woods needed several clutch par putts just to stay within striking distance after the opening round of the 119th U.S. Open.

After playing the front nine in 1-under, including a double-bogey on the par-3 fifth, Woods played the back nine in even-par, draining putts from as far as 30 feet to keep his scorecard in red numbers. Hell start the second round five shots behind Justin Rose, who fired a 6-under 65 on Thursday.

It was typical Pebble Beach where the first seven holes you can get it going and then after that youre kind of fighting and kind of hanging on, Woods said. I proved that today. I had it going early and had to fight off through the middle part of the round and hung in there with pars. Im very pleased to shoot under par today.

Woods, who won his 15th major at the Masters, but missed the cut in the PGA Championship at Bethpage, made a 5-footer for birdie at the par-4 fourth hole, but took a double when his tee-shot at the par-3 fifth went way left and bounced off a cart path. He responded with birdies on the par-5 sixth and the par-3 seventh, where he made a 23-footer.

He made a 30-footer to save par at the par-5 14th, and scrambled out of the bunker to make a 7-footer for par at the 17th. He closed with his 10th straight par at the 18th after his second shot landed in the bunker left of the green.

I didnt hit my irons as crisp as Id like, Woods said. I tried to miss the ball in the correct spots and a couple of times where I had wedges in my hand I was just dumping it into the center of the green and moving on.

Woods looks much better physically and mentally than he did at Bethpage, where he looked tired and rusty. Hell have to play better than he did Thursday to keep up with a field that looks ready to post more low numbers in Fridays second round.

As I said, I played the first seven holes, except for that bad tee shot on 5, and I did what I was supposed to do through those first seven holes, Woods said. And after that I was just hanging around and hoping that I could make a birdie here and there. The only mistake I made was probably at 14 trying to carry that ball back there to the flag, and I clipped it and dumped my ball in the center of the green and tried to make my bogey, but happened to make a putt.

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