|The Associated Press|
Is Tiger really back? No.
Tiger Woods isn't back. He'll never be back. Why? Because he is past his prime. He will never be as good as he was. But that doesn't mean he isn't the best playing right now. He very well may be. He sure showed some of the other "bests" how to play golf today in the first round of the 2012 U.S. Open in San Francisco, California.
Woods is grouped for the first two days with Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson. The group is one of two major power groups; the other being made up of Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood. Although Tiger came away from Day 1 three shots behind leader Michael Thompson, he was the story of the day. Woods's one-under par 69 put his group mates to shame.
Mickelson fired his first shot of the day right into a tree, it apparently never came down.
“It hit the big tree and I think it stayed up there because no one heard it or saw it come down,” said Lefty.
Mickelson finished the day 6-over at 76.
Watson finished the day at the bottom of the group with a poor 78. Looking nervous from the start of the day, Bubba was drained by the course.
“The golf course beat me up pretty good,” Watson said. “It’s a good golf course, just not good for me.”
The story, however, was Tiger. The man of old did seem to reappear today. Woods took the course very fundamentally. He made a plan and stuck to it. When he strayed from his plan, luck seemed to be on his side. One hole, Tiger called "a fluke." His attempt to set up an easy putt for par was foiled by an overshot from 25 feet above the hole. Of course, the eventual outcome of the foiled plan was the ball falling in the hole for a birdie, one of three he hit today.
If there has been any sign that Tiger Woods is back, today was it. Even his playing partners commented on it.
“That was the old Tiger today,” Said Bubba Watson shortly after the round was over. “That was beautiful to watch. That’s what we all want to watch and that was awesome to see him strike the ball like that."
Mickelson said Woods was impressive. When informed of this by the media, Tiger's response was simply, "We've got three days to go."
We sure do, and the whole world is watching with much anticipation.
On a side note, the crowd gave Mickelson some slack today. Mickelson hit a ball into the gallery on the 14th, he walked into the crowd and stood over his ball taking a few practice swings from the rough. A fan knelt near Mickelson as he took his swings said, “Don’t hit me, Phil.”
A nearby fan responded with, “Then go stand in the fairway."
Nick Watney hit a double eagle on the 17th, only the third double eagle in U.S. Open history.
Other notable scores for the day:
1 Luke Donald: +9
2 Rory McIlroy +7
6 Matt Kuchar E
7 Justin Rose -1
21 Graeme McDowell -1
27 Nick Watney -1
42 David Toms -1