More major struggles for Tiger after 74 to start US Open

More major struggles for Tiger after 74 to start US Open

The care Tiger Woods takes to improve his physical condition means the 15-time major winner isn't playing often enough to sharpen his game when he does compete in majors.

Tiger Woods 2024

Woods has not been the same since suffering severe leg injuries in a 2021 car crash, and while his surgically repaired back and legs can better handle walking 72 holes, he can't find the form that made him an iconic champion.

"I wasn't as sharp as I needed to be," Woods said after firing a four-over par 74 to stand well off the first-round lead in the 124th US Open at Pinehurst.

"I'm physically getting better as the year has gone on. I just haven't been able to play as much because I just don't want to hurt myself pre, then I won't be able to play in the major championships.

"It's pick your poison, right? Play a lot with the potential of not playing, or not playing and fight being not as sharp."

At 48, Woods continues to draw huge crowds, but struggles to improve his game, hitting two birdies against six bogeys in the opening round.

"I didn't hit my irons particularly well. Didn't putt that great," Woods said. "Drove it on the string all day. Unfortunately I just didn't capitalize on it.

"I was somewhat conservative in some of my end points. Then again, I didn't hit the ball very well either. It added up to quite a bit of distance away from the flag. It's not where I wanted to be on a lot of the holes."

Woods, who won his most recent major at the 2019 Masters, has undergone surgery on his back, knees and legs to be able to continue his career. Recreating the magic is another thing altogether.

"I'd like to hit a few putts. My speed was not quite there," he said. "I 3-putted, two or three times. If I clean that up, if I get a couple iron shots not as loose as I did, I'm right there at even par.

"It's just so hard to get back. This is a golf course that doesn't give up a whole lot of birdies.

"I did the one thing I needed to do, which is drive the ball well. I just didn't capitalize on any of it."

Woods doesn't see any easing in Pinehurst's tricky domed greens, where a near miss can send a ball rolling down a long slope.

"This golf course is all about the greens. The complexes are just so difficult and so severe," he said. "It's hard to get the ball close. It's just hard to get the ball on top of the shelves.

"Being aggressive to a conservative line is how you need to play this particular golf course."


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