British Open 2010: Tiger Woods gets going late in first round

South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen, 27, is no longer a no-name after his dominant, seven-stroke victory at St. Andrews.
By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 16, 2010

ST. ANDREWS, SCOTLAND -- Tiger Woods introduced a new concept in his approach to a major championship Thursday, when he began the British Open at the Old Course with a 5-under-par 67.

"I let the round mature," he said.

The translation, apparently, is that on a day in which many players made birdies early, Woods got going late. He trails first-round leader Rory McIlroy by four shots not because he played poorly, but because he was just 1-under through six holes.

"Most of the guys were under early, even though I wasn't," Woods said. "I said, 'Just let the round mature, just keep hanging in there and keep plugging along.' It could have been a pretty good round today."

Woods's ball-striking was excellent throughout the day, the one error -- a wayward drive into the thick left rough on 17 -- led to his only bogey of the day. That bogey, though, could have been avoided, because he missed a four-foot putt for par. He also missed a makeable birdie putt at 18.

Woods, though, said the new Nike putter he put in his bag for this week -- his first new putter in 11 years -- worked well.

"I'm very pleased with it," he said. "As I said, it comes off faster, and these greens are just the slowest I've seen in a long time, if ever. . . . It came off well, and I putted pretty good today."

The last remaining question for Woods, then, was how he would be received by the Scottish crowds in his first post-scandal Open appearance. When starter Ivor Robson called his name into the microphone, there were only pleasant cheers.

"They've always been respectful and enthusiastic here," Woods said. "There's no reason it would be any different. They were great out there today."

A fine first round for Marino

Steve Marino began his Open thusly: Bed at 9 p.m. Wednesday, alarm clock ring at 3:30 a.m. Thursday, at the practice range at 4:45, and the first tee time of the Open at 6:30.

"I think that's the earliest I've ever woken up to play golf," he said.

Marino did just fine with the early start, shooting a bogey-free 3-under 69 in his first competitive round at St. Andrews. The Fairfax native and University of Virginia graduate began with eight pars, birdied 9, 10 and 12, and then parred in. His only real regret: a three-putt for par on the par-5 fifth, where he missed a four-footer.

"I've been really looking forward to this week," said Marino, who shared the second-round lead with Tom Watson in his British Open debut last year at Turnberry. "Today was a great start, and I'm really looking forward to the rest of the week."

Watson starts out 'sluggish'

It appears there will be no magical run for Watson this year. The five-time British Open champion, who is 60, bogeyed Nos. 2-4 to get off to a start he called "sluggish," and though those were his only bogeys of the day, his morning round of 1-over 73 failed to take advantage of the calm conditions.

"Never really got it going after that," Watson said. "I had some makeable putts. . . . Really didn't get the ball in the hole as well as I could have an didn't hit the ball as well as I should have." . . .

The most famous bunker in golf, the one along the left of the 17th green here, claimed another victim Thursday. Denmark's Anders Hansen hit his approach in the Road Hole bunker. Four shots later, he was finally out of it, making a quadruple-bogey 8.

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