US Open 2024: Tiger Woods struggles to opening-round 74 and admits to lack of major sharpness at Pinehurst No 2 | Golf News

Tiger Woods has conceded he has areas to improve to avoid back-to-back major missed cuts after failing to build on an encouraging start to the US Open at Pinehurst No 2.

Woods was unable to build on a fast start to the third major of year, where he was under par after six holes before five bogeys in a seven-hole stretch saw him slip to a four-over 74.

The 15-time major champion is making his just his third appearance of the season and has only completed all four rounds of a tournament four times since November 2020, and he acknowledged a lack of sharpness after falling nine strokes behind early leader Patrick Cantlay.

Patrick Cantlay hits from the bunker on the 16th hole during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Thursday, June 13, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)
Patrick Cantlay birdied three of his last five holes to card a five-under 65

“I didn’t hit my irons particularly well,” Woods admitted after his round. “Didn’t putt that great. Drove it on the string all day, just unfortunately I just didn’t capitalise on it.

“I was somewhat conservative in some of my end points. Then again, I didn’t hit the ball very well either, so it added up to quite a bit of distance away from the flag. It’s not where I wanted to be on a lot of the holes. It just ended up being that far away because I wasn’t as sharp as I needed to be.”

Tiger Woods hits his tee shot on the 11th hole during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Thursday, June 13, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Tiger Woods mixed two birdies with six bogeys during his opening round at Pinehurst No 2

Woods predicted pre-tournament that the event could be a “war of attrition”, given the challenges around Pinehurst’s “turtleback” greens, although the 48-year-old put his slow start down to mistakes rather than fitness issues.

“I’m physically getting better as the year has gone on,” said Woods, who finished last of those who made the cut at The Masters before making an early exit at Valhalla last month. “I just haven’t been able to play as much because I just don’t want to hurt myself pre (majors), then I won’t be able to play in the major championships.

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Wayne Riley demonstrates how hard the greens are going to be at the 2024 US Open at Pinehurst Resort.

“It’s pick your poison, right? Play a lot with the potential of not playing, or not playing and fight being not as sharp.”

Woods struggles with Pinehurst test

Beginning on the back nine alongside Will Zalatoris and 2022 US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick, Woods got off to the perfect start when he rolled in from 12 feet at the par-five tenth and then two-putted from distance to save par at the next.

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Tiger Woods started his US Open campaign with a birdie on his first hole, the par-five 10th at Pinehurst No 2.

He remained bogey free when he holed from 10 feet at the 12th and scrambled another par from a similar distance at the next, then missed a birdie chance from 10 feet at the 14th that could have moved him into a share of the lead.

Woods was part of a logjam tied at the top after a par at the 15th but saw his bogey run start when he had to pitch out of the rough following a wayward drive at the 16th, and he then three-putted from long range at the par-three 17th.

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The turn was reached in 36, the same total Woods recorded during the opening rounds of both previous US Opens at Pinehurst, only for him to lose further ground with a three-putt at the first and a failure to get up-and-down from off the green at the next.

Things worsened when he missed from inside five feet to save par at the fourth, having produced a miraculous recovery from the rough, although he bounced back to two-putt from 30 feet at the par-five next to card a first birdie since the opening hole.

Woods holed from nine feet to save par at the sixth and offered a big fist pump after rolling in from 15 feet to avoid dropping a shot at the par-four next, but he bogeyed the eighth and signed off a frustrating day by scrambling a par on his final hole.

Tiger Woods is chasing an unlikely fourth US Open victory and 16th major title

“My speed was not quite there,” Woods added. “I think I three-putted – what? – two or three times today. If I clean that up, if I get a couple iron shots not as loose as I did, I’m right there at even par.

“It can go so far the other way here, the wrong way. It’s just so hard to get back. This is a golf course that doesn’t give up a whole lot of birdies. It gives up a lot of bogeys and higher. I thought I did the one thing I needed to do today, which is drive the ball well. I did that, I just didn’t capitalise on any of it.”

Who will win the third men’s major of the year? Watch the US Open live on Sky Sports. Live coverage of the second round begins on Friday from 12.30pm on Sky Sports Golf. Stream the US Open and more with NOW.

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