Tiger Woods battles bad putts, heckler en route to posting 74
Tiger Woods had a mediocre day at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach on Thursday.
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The early holes were promising, even though the putts didn't fall. Woods was hitting fairways and greens — none of those wild shots that had crept into his game the last two months — and was even par through eight holes on a day where no one would finish better than 2-under.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures A hole-by-hole look at Pebble Beach Golf Links
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Then came the heckler on the ninth tee, playing off of Woods' claim that the state of his marriage was no one's business.
"It is our business," he yelled. "You made it our business."
Woods acknowledged he heard what was said. But he said it didn't cause his three-putt on the ninth green, or his spotty play coming in.
"No, God no," he said.
On that point, Woods was probably telling the truth. He's always had the ability to compartmentalize things, and he's famous for the focus he brings to every shot.
The heckler was one thing, the tricky greens quite another.
Woods complained that they had gotten bumpy later in the day, as poa annua greens tend to do, and he said it was no coincidence that the best scores came from the morning starters.
Actually, though, the leaders, like Woods, played in the afternoon, and when someone asked if he found that bit of information interesting, he responded with only a curt "No."
Hard to blame Woods for being a bit testy. Someone yelled at him, he couldn't make putts, and an 18-year-old and an amateur posted better scores.
Then he topped it all off by making an ugly 6 on the 18th hole from the middle of the fairway.
Ten years ago he left a foggy Pebble Beach after the first round with the lead, secure in the knowledge he could make putts whenever he needed them. On this brilliantly sunny day he went home five behind and with no clue how to get the ball into the hole.
Back then he was confident about winning, confident no one could challenge him. Now he talked about grinding it out and trying to remain in contention.
"There's a long way to go. Just keep plugging along and see where I come Sunday afternoon," Woods said.
Where he's come now is a long way from where he once was. Now at least it's a fair fight against players who no longer feel compelled to bow before him.
Unfortunately for Woods, there's no guarantee anymore that he'll be the last one standing.
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