Tiger Woods battles sore wrist, shaky game in 1st round of U.S. Open at Merion

Andrew Redington

Tiger Woods got off to a shaky start at rainy Merion Golf Club.

Tiger Woods won his 14th major championship on one leg. If he is to have a chance to overcome a ragged start to his first round and grab his 15th, he may have to do it with one healthy arm.

Woods grimaced and shook his left wrist several times after chopping errant shots from heavy rough as he certainly did not have the start he was looking for as he set out, once again, on Thursday in the hunt for his first major in five years. It was certainly an inauspicious kick off for the world No. 1, who did not pull his weight in the marquee threesome that included Rory McIlroy and reigning Masters champ Adam Scott.

Starting his day in late afternoon after a lengthy rain delay pushed tee times back, Woods winced after hitting a shot out of the soggy, thick rough on the first hole. He did so again at least three more times, including on his penultimate shot of the day when he chunked an iron short of the green from the left rough on the par-4 11th.

His play on the greens was no better, three-putting on Nos. 1 and 9, and he never seemed to figure out the speed of the putting surfaces. After officials suspended play at 8:16 p.m. ET, Woods decided to attempt a four-foot par putt on Friday morning rather than tempt fate in the fading daylight.

Woods had to hope that the overnight hiatus -- he’ll be back on the 11th green at 7:15 a.m. -- would help more than the stoppage of play during his abbreviated opening round. In addition to figuring out how to straighten out his inconsistent game, he would no doubt require some ice and anti-inflammatory medication for his balky wrist.

Woods, who was at 2-over through ten holes, did give his fans something to cheer about when he emerged after rain interrupted his round. He drilled a 45-footer for birdie on No. 6, but his par attempt on the eighth came up short -- the theme of his day -- and stalled his brief comeback.

“Tiger can’t be pleased. He just can’t be pleased,” NBC’s Roger Maltbie said after darkness mercifully called a halt to Woods’ disappointing day. “His short game hasn’t been what it should be ... from the start ... He can’t be satisfied.”

Woods would not argue that statement.

“It’s going to be a fast night,” Woods told the AP’s Jeff Babineau. He will start his second round six shots back of 18-hole leader Luke Donald. “I’ve got a lot of holes to play tomorrow. Hopefully I can play a little better than I did today.”

Golf Channel’s Frank Nobilo put a period on Woods’ round.

“He needed to do three things to play well,” he said. “Had to drive the ball well, had to wedge it well, had to putt well. Three-putted two greens, didn’t really wedge it close, and hit the ball too many times out of the hay.

“That’s just in 11 holes.”

As Tiger no doubt said more than once on Thursday, ouch.

Scott and McIlroy chose to putt out at 11, with Steve Williams' boss standing at 3-under, tied with Phil Mickelson for second place. The world No. 2, who bogeyed the 11th, was to start Friday at even-par.

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