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Tiger Woods Struggles as Aussies Endure Punishing Conditions at US Open

Tiger Woods Struggles as Aussies Endure Punishing Conditions at US Open

Read more: 2024 U.S. Open leaderboard: Rory McIlroy, Patrick Cantlay share first-round lead at Pinehurst No. 2


(Pinehurst, North Carolina) - The opening round of the 2024 US Open at Pinehurst No. 2 lived up to predictions of a "war of attrition", as notoriously fast greens punished many of the world's best golfers, including Tiger Woods and most of the Australian contingent.


15-time major champion Woods struggled to a disappointing 4-over-par 74 in his first round. After an early birdie, Woods managed just one more for the day as six bogeys saw him finish an enormous nine shots back of early leaders Patrick Cantlay and Rory McIlroy, who both shot 5-under 65.


The troublesome greens were blamed for Woods' struggles and those of many others. Fellow American Collin Morikawa had an unfortunate moment where his chip rolled all the way off the other side of a green from the fringe. Woods admitted in his pre-tournament comments that the speed of the greens would make it a huge test to hold shots on the putting surfaces.


Tiger Woods during the first round of the US Open.


It was much of the same for Australia's best players. Only Adam Scott held it together with an even-par 70, draining a long birdie putt on his final hole. Cameron Smith and Jason Day both shot 1-over 71 while Min Woo Lee and Jason Scrivener finished at 3 and 4-over respectively. Cam Davis faced an uphill battle to make the weekend after a difficult opening 77.


Defending British Open champion Smith came into the tournament with high hopes but the tricky conditions provided more frustration in what has been a disappointing season so far by his standards. He managed only two birdies in his round of 71.


The consensus from players was that Pinehurst's treacherously fast and sloping greens, with shots regularly rolling all the way off the putting surfaces, presented one of the sternest tests in major championship golf. After the opening salvos, it seems only the best greenside shot makers can contend for victory on this punishing layout as the US Open enters its second round.



How did Tiger Woods prepare for the fast and tricky greens at Pinehurst


Practice putting off the greens: The article quotes Woods saying he "had putted off several greens in practice due to how fast they are." This suggests he intentionally practiced putting from off the greens to experience the speeds.


Expected a "war of attrition": In his pre-tournament press conference, Woods said it would be "a great test and a great war of attrition." This indicates he understood it would be a huge mental and physical challenge to navigate the greens.


Physically building up: Woods said "I'm physically getting better as the year has gone on. I just haven't been able to play as much because I just don't want to hurt myself pre." So he had been carefully managing his practice to be fresh.


Balancing practice vs. rest: As quoted, Woods had to weigh "Play a lot with the potential of not playing, or not playing and fight being not as sharp." So he didn't overdo the practice at Pinehurst.


Relying on experience: While greens were extreme, Woods would have Drawn on his vast experience reading greens from all angles at past US Opens and majors.


How did Adam Scott manage to perform better than other Aussies at the US Open



Experience/course familiarity: Scott has played in 92 consecutive majors, giving him a lot of experience dealing with pressure. Pinehurst No. 2 may also have been more familiar to him than some other Aussies.


Putting: The article specifically mentions Scott draining a long birdie putt on his final hole to shoot even par 70. Strong putting helped minimize bogeys on the tricky greens.


Greenside play: In general, the article said the greens rewarded the best "greenside shot makers." Scott would have strong short game and wedge play to navigate tricky pin positions.


Consistency: By matching par, Scott avoided the big numbers that hurt others. Shooting 71-73, the other Aussies had more erratic rounds with ups and downs.


Form: While others like Smith struggled in parts of this season, Scott remains a consistently high performer on the PGA Tour. His current form and confidence may have been an edge.







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Sarah has a strong background in sports journalism, with a degree in journalism from a top university in the US. She has covered men's professional golf for over 10 years, attending major tournaments around the world and building an extensive network within the men's golf community. Her writing is known for its in-depth analysis, insider access, and ability to bring the drama and excitement of professional golf to life for readers.

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