Patience is Woods' mantra for US Open

At this year's US Open, Tiger Woods seems determined not to shoot his way out of a second straight title in the opening round.

updated: February 25, 2007 09:48 IST
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Even Tiger Woods couldn't give this year's US Open a spark. On a day when Olympia Fields was there for the taking, Woods came out early and cautious, determined not to shoot his way out of a second straight Open title in the opening round. He succeeded, but he didn't give the masses, who followed his every shot, much to cheer about along the way. The best player in the world didn't try to fire at pins tucked in scary places on slick greens. He didn't try to outmuscle a golf course in a tournament where banging the ball usually doesn't pay off. From his opening tee shot he kept just one thought in mind: Patience, patience, and more patience. "In a major championship, you have to be that way," Woods said. "You have to keep plugging along." Those aren't exactly words to warm the hearts of fans who came out to see Woods slashing his way around the course. What they saw instead was Woods hitting to the middle of greens and just trying to make pars. He did just that, making par-after-par and a lone eagle almost by mistake. Fittingly, when the day was over, he had an opening round of even-par 70 that did nothing to hurt his chances of winning his third Open in four years. "I feel very good how I managed my game today," Woods said. "I got it around and I kept myself in the tournament." Woods left the final green with a closing bogey and a smile on his face, secure in the knowledge that he played well enough to hit 14 greens and would have been among the leaders if he hadn't taken 33 putts. He was a handful of shots off the lead and happy with the results. Woods said he's not about to change his approach, despite what the rest of the players are doing. And, with two wins in the last three Opens, it's hard to argue with his recipe for success. Irwin drops out Three-time winner Hale Irwin dropped out of the US Open with back spasms. "I don't feel very good about what happened, of course," he said. "It's very disappointing. But I've got to take some time, and give this aggravation a rest." He'll decide next week whether to play in the US Senior Open on June 26-29. Irwin's back has been bothering him off and on for several weeks, and he's been treating it with ice and electronic stimulation. He felt fine early in the round, and didn't think it was going to be a problem. But his back "seized up" after his tee shot on the par-4 12th. He did some stretches in hopes of loosening it up. But after hitting an errant second shot that sailed a couple of hundred yards left of the fairway, he called for medical attention. (AP)