SAN FRANCISCO: Tiger Woods showed the poise that has made him a 14-time major champion on Thursday, adapting to a treacherous Olympic Club course to get his US Open challenge off to a solid start.
“I was really, really surprised at how much it had changed from last night or from yesterday,” Woods said after shooting a one-under par 69.“We knew the greens were going to be a little quicker, but I didn’t think they would be this firm this early in the week. So we had to make a couple of adjustments with that.
“But I’m really excited how I was able to execute my game plan all day today and pleased with a one-under par round.”Woods was three shots off the pace set by first-round leader Michael Thompson (66).He was joined on 69 by 2001 USPGA Champion David Toms, 2010 US Open champion Graeme McDowell, England’s Justin Rose and American Nick Watney.
Woods, whose pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 major titles has been slowed by scandal, injury and swing changes, raised expectations that he would lift his first major trophy since 2008 with his victory at The Memorial a fortnight ago.
Playing partner Bubba Watson, the reigning Masters champion who staggered to a 78 on Thursday, said Woods showed every sign of being back in major title form.
“Tiger, that was the old Tiger,” Watson said. “That was beautiful to watch. He hit every shot shape he was trying to hit. I didn’t see any bad swings. I didn’t see any bad shot really.”Woods, who acknowledged at The Masters that he wasn’t dialed in with his re-tooled swing, was also “very pleased” with his ball striking.