For Tiger Woods, the comeback from a slow start at the U.S. Open never came

US Open Golf
Tiger Woods had a rough opening day of the U.S. Open.

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – With the way the field at the U.S. Open was struggling with the tough conditions in the opening round of the U.S. Open, Tiger Woods felt that a triple bogey on his first hole and a bogey on his second wouldn’t hurt him too badly.

But with 16 grueling holes remaining at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, it might have been too much to expect the three-time Open champion to stay at 4-over par the rest of the way. And he didn’t, shooting a 8-over 78 to close out the day in a tie for 102nd place.

Other than the triple, perhaps the low point of the round came at the par-4 12th, where Woods 4-putted for a double bogey.

“It was not very good,” he said. “I was worried about running the putt by [the hole] because it’s downhill on the other side. I left it short, blocked the next one, and then blocked it again – not very good.

“It’s frustrating because I hit the ball … I’m hitting it well. In the last four tournaments, I have not putted well. So if I can putt like I did at the beginning of the year, we’ve got something. I just haven’t done that.”

Woods’ last major championship came at the 2008 Open at Torrey Pines. Right now, the goal is to make the cut when he returns to the course Friday morning.

“Shoot something in the 60s tomorrow and I’ll be just fine,” he said. “I just think today was the toughest day we have all week.”

Something clicked

Scott Piercy was frustrated. Unhappy all week with his preparation for the U.S. Open, he walked off Shinnecock Hills Golf Club Wednesday morning after four practice holes, went back to his rental house, and “pounded some pizza.”

But he regrouped at home, woke up at 4 a.m. for the first tee time of the day at 6:45, and toured the diabolical wind-swept layout in 1-under-par 69, sharing the lead with three other players.

“For me, it was kind of like, all right, calm the mind, get this crap out of your head,” said Piercy, 39, who worked on a drill that made his swing plane more consistent.

“That’s a key thing that I did, and I was hitting it really good,” he said.

At his 36-hole sectional qualifier last week in Memphis, Piercy played six extra playoff holes just to gain alternate status. He was informed later in the week that he would be in the field.

“By Thursday, we had a pretty good idea where we stood,” he said, “and then I could plan to start looking at houses and flights to get up here. Nice to be able to prepare and have the mind-set that you’re in, instead of kind of waiting.”

Piercy helped his round with sand saves at the seventh and 15th holes.

Learning from last year

Russell Henley was within striking distance at last year’s U.S. Open, going into the final 18 just 4 strokes off the lead, but he shot a disastrous 43 on his back nine and dropped into a tie for 27th.

“You have to be in control of your emotions,” Henley said after finishing the first round of the 2018 Open with a share of the lead. “I just lost it mentally. I got emotional and just started trying to hit stupid shots. It just takes one or two bad decisions to make it compile on top of each other.”