PEBBLE BEACH, CA. -- Tiger Woods might not want to admit it, but he missed an opportunity Thursday at the 2019 U.S. Open.
With the wind almost non-existent and the cloud cover keeping Pebble Beach soft, a number of players went out and posted low numbers, taking advantage of a front nine that was scoreable.
Woods, however, didn't take advantage of a gettable course.
The 15-time major champion opened with three straight pars before getting to red numbers with a birdie at the Par-4 fourth. Woods gave the birdie right back and then some, as his tee shot on No. 5 went left of left, bouncing off the cart path and leaving Woods scrambling to save bogey on the Par 3. His second shot skirted across the green and his chip coming back left him nine feet for bogey. His bogey putt slid just right of the hole and Woods walked away at 1-over-par after the double bogey.
He responded with birdies at No. 6 and No. 7 to get back under par, but that was all he could muster on the day, as he finished the round with 11 straight pars to shoot a 1-under-70.
Woods' iron play, which had been solid last time he teed it up at The Memorial, was not very sharp in the first round. Woods hit only nine-of-18 greens and lost 1.28 strokes on approach to the field.
“I didn’t hit my irons as crisp as I’d 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, center of the green, move on, get my 30-, 40-footer and move on about my business and take my medicine when I was in a bad spot.”
Thursday at Pebble was a battle for Woods.
"That was a grind," Woods said after the round. "Wow. You know, as you know, Pebble Beach you have like the first seven holes to get it going and after that, it's a fight. And I kind of proved that today, I just kind of hung in there and grinded my way along."
While Woods didn't take full advantage of the soft course, his putting saved him on the back nine, keeping him within arm's reach of first-round leader Justin Rose, who carded a 6-under-par-65.
Woods, who currently is tied for 28th place, will need to rediscover his iron game quickly if he plans to be a factor in the championship. If past U.S. Opens at Pebble Beach are any indicator, the course will only play more difficult as the week goes on. With a number of players going low Thursday, the USGA likely will dry out the course ahead of Friday's second round in an attempt to quicken the fairways and greens.
Woods, along with Rose and Jordan Spieth, will tee off at 8:24 a.m. PT on Friday.