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NOTES

Woods: 'Par Is Good Any Time'

June 13, 2003|Thomas Bonk and Chris Dufresne | Times Staff Writers

OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill — OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. -- Who would have thought that Tiger Woods, the defending U.S. Open champion, would play his first round without making a birdie?

Woods made one eagle, two bogeys and 15 pars in his opening round and said he was satisfied with his score of 70.

"Par is good any time," he said.

Maybe, but par took a beating Thursday at Olympia Fields, where 24 players shot in the 60s. Woods said he wasn't upset about missing the boat.

"I feel good about the way I managed my game today. I didn't hit the ball off the tee as well as I needed to, but I got it around and kept myself in the tournament," he said.

Woods hit only six fairways -- three on each side -- and got burned when he drove into the right rough at his closing hole, the ninth, with a three-wood. His seven-iron from the rough ended up in the front, left bunker. He didn't like his shot from the bunker, leaving the ball 18 feet below the hole, and missed a par putt.

He eagled the par-five sixth, his 15th hole. With 237 yards to the front of the green, Woods hit a three-iron second shot to 20 feet from the pin.

"I wasn't trying for the flag, trust me," he said.

Woods rolled in the putt for an eagle. He left the course wishing there had been more chances to score.

"I fired away from just about every flag," he said. "Over 18 holes, I had two realistic looks at birdie, 16 and 17 back-to-back and missed them both. Other than that, I left myself some pretty difficult putts. On top of that, I didn't drive the ball in the fairway where I could actually take a run at a flag or two."

*

Hale Irwin's 34th U.S. Open ended after 11 holes when he injured his back. Irwin was one over par and had birdied No. 2 but could not continue because of back spasms.

Irwin said his back bothered him on his tee shot at his 12th hole, and when he hit his second shot left, Irwin had to be taken off the course on a stretcher.

Medical personnel helped Irwin onto a golf cart and made him lie on his back.

"I don't feel very good about what happened," Irwin said after being treated for an hour in the fitness trailer. "Very disappointing."

Irwin, 58, a three-time U.S. Open champion, said he has been bothered by muscle spasms on and off for a couple of weeks.

*

Chad Campbell, dubbed the "Next Big Thing" in golf by Sports Illustrated in its U.S. Open preview, kept the hype alive with his solid, even-par 70.

"I played really well," Campbell said. "Anytime you can be even at the U.S. Open you're doing well."

Campbell, a 29-year-old from Lewisville, Texas, has yet to post a win since joining the PGA Tour in 2002, although he does have five top-10 finishes this year.

Campbell was a legend on the mini-tour circuit, cleaning up in events such as the Camellia City and Jackaroo Steakhouse and Sauce classics.

A recent SI Golf Plus survey asked tour players to pick a player, other than Phil Mickelson, who was most likely to win a major championship for the first time.

Jim Furyk was the top vote-getter, followed by Campbell.

*

So what did you expect from a high school sophomore? Tom Glissmeyer, a 16-year-old from Colorado Springs who was born eight months after Jack Nicklaus won his sixth Masters title in 1986, finished the first round of his first U.S. Open with a 10-over 80.

"There are really a lot of distractions out there," he said. "I'm still trying to adjust to 30,000 people.

"After the first few holes, I started to settle down."

*

The USGA scored a knockout when it decided to give Tom Watson, 53, a special exemption. So, looking ahead, if Watson wins the U.S. Open, he would be the oldest winner in the 103-year history of the Open.

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