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So far, so good for Woods at US Open

Comments(0) 6/15/12
Tiger Woods showed the poise that has made him a 14-time major champion 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."

When he walked off the course Woods was three shots off the pace set by clubhouse leader Michael Thompson (66). He was soon joined in second place by US veteran David Toms.

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.

The firmer course, some gusty winds and variations in the teeing grounds changed some of his planned club selections.

And on the small, firm, sloping greens he was often content with two putts.

"I felt I putted well today," he said. "Most of my putts were lag putts. I was trying to get the speed right and have kick-ins. I did that all day today."

Woods opened his round with five straight pars -- an impressive enough run on a US Open course featuring the usual menacing rough along with Olympic's narrow, tree-lined fairways.

At the par-four 14th his approach shot hit the green and bounced into dense rough and he took his first bogey of the day.

Woods rebounded with a birdie at the par-five 17th, then made back-to-back birdies at four and five. After one more bogey at the fifth, he closed with two pars and said he was delighted to see his game stand up to major championship pressure.

"I know I can hit the ball this way, and I know I have been hitting the golf ball this way, and I was able to put it together in a major championship," he said.

"I'm going to need it the next three days. This golf course is only going to get faster."

© Copyright AFP Agence France-Presse GmbH - All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed. All reproduction or redistribution is expressly forbidden without the prior written agreement of AFP.
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