Monday, November 29, 1999

Woods shoots 74 in frustrating Pebble Beach return

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Tiger Woods, who demolished the opposition by a record 15 strokes at the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, made a less than triumphant return to the Pacific coast layout on Thursday with a three-over-par 74.Woods stood five strokes behind U.S. Open first round co-leaders Paul Casey of Britain, Brendon de Jong of Zimbabwe and American Shaun Micheel and blamed the greens."It was so bouncy out there," Woods told reporters, referring to the hard, fast greens. "The greens are just awful."It is what it is so you know they're going to be bouncing all over the place and you can't leave yourself a (long) second putt."The world number one, who has struggled to regain his form since a five-month, self-imposed exile to deal with fallout from his marital infidelities, fought a losing battle on the putting surfaces."The greens are very tricky," said Woods. "You can't leave yourself 20-, 30-footers. You can't leave yourself second putts. They are just not very good."Woods was guilty on both counts and needed 34 putts for his 18 holes, which marked the first time he failed to make a single birdie during a major championship round since the 2003 Masters.Looking for his first major triumph since the 2008 U.S. Open, Woods was steady at the start, hitting his first 11 greens in regulation, but wobbled down the stretch, three-putting the 16th for bogey and misplaying the par-five 18th.At 18, his five-iron lay up shot nipped into a fairway bunker. His approach flew into the rough behind the green and a weak chip left him about 10 feet from the cup.After tossing aside his wedge in disgust, Woods grazed his par putt on the right edge and took another bogey for his 74."If I didn't three-putt and lay up in a bunker, I would've been right where I should be."Woods, 34, said he was satisfied on the whole with his game and looked forward to what he expected would be better conditions for him on Friday morning."I play my practice rounds in the morning and (the greens) are just fine, they are smoother," he said. "This afternoon, they were not."All you can do is go out and hit good putts and hope they kick in. You just have to be patient. There is a long way to go. I know, I've won three of these."(Editing by Alastair Himmer. To query or comment on this story email
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