For amateur golfers, not men like Tiger Woods, the end of the round is when your knees start a-knockin'. Your hands clam up, your brow starts sweating and you're not exactly sure what you did right the first 14 holes.
On Friday at Bethpage Black, in what was the second day of the first round of the U.S. Open (say that five times fast), Tiger rolled in a birdie putt on the 14th to get back to even par. On a golf course known more for curse words and broken hearts than birdie opportunities, even par is a number players would be thrilled with given the current conditions overtaking Long Island.
But for Woods on Friday, even par was hopeful thinking that only lasted for those first 14 holes.
A sloppy double-bogey on the 15th highlighted by a missed three-footer followed by a bogey on the 16th took Tiger's round from complacent to club-tossing. The miscues aren't as much bad swings as they are the difficulty of Bethpage. Woods missed the fairway on the only par-5 on the back nine by two yards, and had to chip out with a wedge. Another missed fairway on 15, arguably the toughest hole on the course, caused Woods to come up short with his approach and a chunked chip followed by three putts added up to the double-squared six. If that wasn't enough, Woods missed the fairway on the 18th with a fairway metal, leading to closing bogey and a four-over 74 for the first round.
Bethpage is a much different course than in 2002 and Tiger's score is a perfect example. Tiger shot a first-round 67 the last time the U.S. Open was hosted here; now Tiger's 74 was the highest competitive round he has ever recorded at the Black Course. The only bright side Woods can take from his opening round was the comparison to last year's first round. Tiger made two double-bogeys on his way to his 74 ... the same amount he made at Torrey Pines in the first round last year.