SAN DIEGO (AP) Tiger Woods trails leader Justin Hicks by four strokes after his opening round at the U.S. Open, shooting a 1-over-par 72 in his first tournament since having knee surgery two months ago.
Woods, playing in a group with Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott, started the day with his first double-bogey of the year. The world's No. 1 golfer rebounded with three birdies to move to 1-under before another double-bogey at the par-4 14th hole at Torrey Pines Golf Course near San Diego.
Woods, 32, closed his round with a three-putt par 5 at the 18th hole after reaching the green in two shots. He didn't have a birdie over the final nine holes.
"You couldn't ask for a worse start than I got off to, (with) a 6 on the very first hole," said Woods, who won the U.S. PGA Tour's past four Buick Invitational tournaments at Torrey Pines. "I got to under par and had a chance to finish even par for the day and three-whacked the last hole."
Hicks, a 33-year-old American who plays on the second-tier Nationwide Tour, shot a 3-under 68 that included 7 birdies and 4 bogeys. He had six birdies and three bogeys over his first nine holes and said he overheard fans in the gallery talking about him holding the early lead at the season's second major tournament.
'Keep Playing Good'
"There's a lot of golf to be played, so really, does it ever matter when you're leading the Open unless it's the final round?" Hicks said at a news conference. "So I know that it's a marathon, not a sprint. Our goal is to keep playing good, steady golf and try to be standing here on Sunday night."
Kevin Streelman is 3-under through nine holes. Streelman tied for 29th at the Buick Invitational in January at Torrey Pines after making the tournament field as an alternate and opening with rounds of 67 and 69 before shooting 75-77 on the weekend.
Rocco Mediate, Stuart Appleby and Eric Axley are one stroke off the lead after rounds of 2-under-par 69. Mediate and Appleby had four birdies and two bogeys, while Axley had four birdies, four bogeys and an eagle.
Rickie Fowler, the youngest player in the field, opened with a 1-under 70. The 19-year-old amateur won the Ben Hogan Award at Oklahoma State this year as the top U.S. collegiate golfer. Lee Westwood and Robert Karlsson also shot first-round 70s.
Mickelson shot an even-par 71 that included 4 bogeys and 4 birdies, including 3 over his final 6 holes. Scott opened with a 2-over 73 and had 4 birdies, 4 bogeys and a double-bogey.
The group of Woods, Mickelson and Scott, golf's top three players, began play about one hour after the opening tee time in San Diego. Today's round marked the first time Woods has walked 18 holes since surgery on his left knee following the Masters Tournament in April.
"It's a bit sore right now," said Woods, who won four of his first six tournaments this season. "It is what it is. (I've) got to deal with it and continue playing."