The 15-time major victor shot a 1-under 70 to finish the day five shots back of leader Justin Rose despite not being at his best in the first round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. That earned a big fist pump from Woods on a day when he was visibly frustrated with his iron play. He had to hit his second shot off the cart path on No. 18 to save par.
"I don't know if I did a good job of anything other than scrambling today so it's good to know you can shoot a score like that and have something left in the tank".
He chipped back over the green from there and couldn't get up and down, carding a double-bogey 5. "But this was a chance to get a few under par, and I just didn't quite do it". I was in the middle of the fairway on 18 and I had to hit a golf shot.
Woods missed after shot far to the right on 13, dropping his club and cursing in frustration but managed to hit his third shot from short of the green to 5 feet and made par.
Phil Mickelson, in another U.S. Open quest to complete the career Grand Slam, didn't feel he was out of it either, despite only two birdies in his round of 1-over 72, which included a 22-inch par putt that he missed.
Woods hit just nine of 18 greens in regulation, sometimes leaving himself in some precarious positions. "I would never in my wildest dreams have thought that I'd still be playing and he'd be playing with me at a U.S. Open", said Els, who shot 75. "I tried to miss the ball in the correct spots, and a couple of times where I had wedges in my hand, I was just dumping, center of the green, move on, get my 30-, 40-footer and move on about my business and take my medicine when I was in a bad spot and just kind of grind it out".
Scott Piercy: By missing the cut at last week's Canadian Open, Piercy risked his spot at the U.S. Open. He won by a record 15 shots here in 2000, again two years later at Bethpage Black and then in a 19-hole playoff against Rocco Mediate in 2008 at Torrey Pines.
"This golf course is a bit more fun and shows its teeth with wind", he said.
He had top 10 finishes the next two years, including a tie for fourth at Pebble Beach in 2010, but has had little success at this tournament of late.
Unless conditions change dramatically, this U.S. Open figures to look a lot more like Brooks Koepka's win at Erin Hills in 2017 (when he finished 16-under) than his victory at Shinnecock Hills a year ago (when he was 1-over).
Rose enjoyed a one-shot lead over former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen and the American trio of Rickie Fowler, Xander Schauffele and Aaron Wise, with Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson and Francesco Molinari part of an eight-strong group on three under.