Woods welcomes early start

Tiger Woods will be happy to be an early starter at today’s US Open second round after experiencing a bumpy ride on the Pebble Beach greens last night.

Tiger Woods will be happy to be an early starter at today’s US Open second round after experiencing a bumpy ride on the Pebble Beach greens last night.

The world number one, returning to the course where he set a major championship-record victory margin of 15 strokes at the 2000 US Open, saw his bid for a 15th major undermined by the California links’ bumpy afternoon greens.

Woods shot a birdie-free three-over-par 74 last night – not a disastrous mark from which to start the second round, just five shots back of overnight leaders Paul Casey, Shaun Micheel and Brendon De Jonge.

“I felt like I played very consistent, very patient, and I hit a lot of shots how I wanted to hit them,” Woods said. “And placed the ball in the correct spots.

“These greens are just awful. They’re fast, you know they’re going to be bouncing all over the place and you can’t leave yourself a second putt.”

Woods, though, feels the morning wave of starters, of which he will be a part for today’s second round, have a slightly better chance of making their approach shots stick on the greens and holing their putts.

“There’s no one making a lot of putts out there, no one is going low, you just can’t,” he said. “The afternoon guys can’t. The morning guys have a chance.

“I’ve played all my practice rounds in the morning and the greens are smoother, but they’re still very firm.”

Woods’ co-favourite and main rival Phil Mickelson was also extremely frustrated on the greens as he carded a 75, his first without a birdie in 95 rounds.

Yet the world number two and Masters champion, who before the tournament had warned about the Pebble Beach greens “getting away” from the US Open set-up officials, chose to blame his putting stroke rather than the conditions.

“The ball was jumping left and jumping right off the face,” Mickelson said. “Something is off on my set-up or stroke or something.”

The left-hander said he was going to call his putting coach Dave Stockton to get some advice but was confident he could sort the problem out.

“I think I may have keyed in on it on the putting green but I’ll call and talk and see if he saw anything. But, again, I have been putting well all last week, so it’s just a minor tweak here and there.”

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