Sat, Jul 07, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Woods struggles at his own tournament

AP , BETHESDA, MARYLAND

Tiger Woods, second left, gets a police escort to the practice area before teeing off in the first round of the AT&T National golf tournament at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, on Thursday.

PHOTO: AP

Hosting his own tournament for the first time, Tiger Woods bogeyed his first two holes.

Then came the rain.

It didn't get much better after that. After a brief delay, Woods continued to be a much more gracious host than he planned. By the time his round was over, he had missed a 0.6m tap-in, hit a man in the face with a drive and tossed his putter in frustration at his bag several times.

His Thursday scorecard at the inaugural AT&T National included seven bogeys in a 3-over round of 73, tied for 77th place and seven shots behind five co-leaders: Vijay Singh, Jim Furyk, K.J. Choi, Joe Ogilvie and Stuart Appleby.

Woods putted 34 times, including three three-putts, and he missed every attempt longer than 2.4m.

"It's one of the worst putting rounds I have had in years," Woods said. "I'm going to have to figure out something for [Friday] because evidently what I'm doing is not even close to being right. I've got to fix it. I've got to get back in this tournament."

Woods hadn't played since finishing second at the US Open three weeks ago, and he said he still had the fast greens of Oakmont in his mind on a damp, humid day at Congressional Country Club.

Meanwhile, 28 players were under par on the 6,587m, par-70 course that was expected to be a tough test with its high rough and long par 4s.

The leaderboard is an eclectic mix of styles, ranging from the long-hitting Singh to older, lay-up players such as 51-year-old Fred Funk and 47-year-old Corey Pavin, who are both one stroke off the lead.

Choi, who started on the back nine, had to overcome bogeys at Nos. 3 and 5, his 12th and 14th holes to get his 66. Singh, who also started at No. 10, had his lone bogey early -- at the par-4 14th, but birided No. 9 get to 4 under.

Appleby closed with three straight birdies.

In the star partnership of Phil Mickelson (74) and Adam Scott (72), Brad Faxon outshone them both as the third member of the threesome, beating might with accuracy with a steady 69, even as his partners consistently out-drove him.

"When they put the deep rough like they have this week, that's my equalizer," Funk said. "The harder the golf course, the better for me in my opinion."

Mickelson, who is battling a left wrist injury, was rusty in his first tournament since missing the cut at the US Open. Mickelson didn't wear a brace and blamed two bogeys and a double bogey on his putting rather than his injury.

"I was told that it may hurt, but I won't be doing any more damage," Mickelson said. "So I've been going after it pretty good, and it does hurt, but as long as I am not doing any more damage I'm OK."

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