Woods comes apart on back nine Amateur plays last 5 holes in 9-over par for 76

U.S. Open notebook

June 14, 1996|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. -- Tiger Woods followed the shot of the day with the blow-up of the day.

Woods, the can't-miss 20-year-old who's won the last two U.S. Amateur championships and is coming off his first NCAA title, made a lot of noise on the front nine at the U.S. Open yesterday. He holed a 60-degree wedge from 60 yards for birdie on No. 5, hit the stick with his approach on No. 6, and had a share of the lead when he got to 3-under on No. 12.

Could Woods keep it up for four days and become the first amateur to win the Open in 63 years?

No. He couldn't even maintain his grip on the rest of his round. Woods played the last five holes in 9-over to balloon to a 76, and he'll have to hustle just to make his first cut in a major.

Woods bogeyed Nos. 14, 17 and 18, double-bogeyed No. 15 and took a quadruple-bogey 8 on No. 16, the signature hole at Oakland Hills. The wind pushed his approach right, into the water. After a drop, his fourth shot, a wedge, landed on the green, but spun back into the water.

Another drop and two putts later, Woods had an 8, a snowman on a day that started cloudy and turned steamy.

"Life goes on," Woods said. "That's the great thing about golf. Another round tomorrow."

Woods gets another round with John Daly, who had a two-over 72, and defending champion Corey Pavin, who had a 73 and said no, he wasn't affected by the long-driving contest going on in his group.

"I play with a lot of guys who hit the ball by me," Pavin said. "I always stick to my own strategy. The only time that matters is on Sunday, late in the day."

The leaders

Payne Stewart got a good start on his third major championship. Stewart gained a share of the first-round lead with a 3-under 67, and it would have been much better if not for a double-bogey on No. 9, a par-3.

Stewart's 3-iron ended up in the back bunker. His first sand shot barely moved the ball, and his second didn't get on the green.

"I get in this bunker [the second] and I go up to my ankles in TTC sand," Stewart said. "I pulled our walking official over and said, 'This is ridiculous.' He said, 'I have to agree with you, but then again, what can they do about it?' They had to get the bunkers playable."

"That was some ugly out there. You've got to bite and grind."

Stewart won the PGA in 1989, and the U.S. Open in 1991.

Woody Austin, the co-leader, is appearing in only his third major, and his first U.S. Open. He suffered a knee injury at qualifying school in 1987, needed two years for rehabilitation, then played in Japan and on the mini-tours before finally earning his PGA tour card in 1995.

"I've paid my dues," Austin said. "Back in college, I was just as good as a Lee Janzen or a Davis Love, and I proved it. I knew I could compete with them. I just needed to be given a chance.

"All of a sudden, you get hurt and you can't even play. So you work a normal job like everyone else, 8 to 5, and everyone asks what are you doing here? You say 'Well, I'm a professional golfer, but I'm hurt,' They say 'Sure, I'm a professional football player, but I just work because I want to.' You get snide remarks, and they motivate you."

Austin's only PGA Tour win came in this state, at last year's Buick Open.

Another wet one

Janzen, the 1993 champion, got to 4-under with birdies on Nos. 12 and 13, but gave the strokes back with bogeys on Nos. 14 and 17 to finish at 68, a stroke off the lead. He hit a perfect drive on No. 14, but had a very wet lie for his second shot. He didn't get the relief he wanted.

"I thought there was enough water under the ball for it to be casual water," Janzen said. "I wouldn't have had to move it very far. The rules of golf are there to help you, and when you drive the ball down the middle of the fairway, you should be rewarded."

The other 68 was turned in by John Morse, a local who played for the University of Michigan.

Briefly

When Ian Baker-Finch won the 1991 British Open, it got him a five-year exemption from qualifying for the U.S. Open. He'll have to go through sectional qualifying to return next year, and by then, maybe he will have rediscovered his game.

Baker-Finch had an 84 yesterday. He hit one fairway and three greens in regulation, and it was not an atypical round for the 35-year-old Australian. He's missed 28 straight cuts since the 1994 World Series of Golf.

Other winners of past majors in danger of not making the cut include Larry Mize and Curtis Strange (74), Bernhard Langer (75), Tom Kite (76) and Ben Crenshaw (80).

The most relaxing logos at the U.S. Open belong to Constantino Rocca. The Italian doesn't spread the word for a club manufacturer, but instead is a tasteful billboard for Club Med.

Pub Date: 6/14/96

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