Tiger's Day 1 tale

YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Tiger Woods, hitting out of the bunker on No. 2, was bothered by a sore left wrist and a 45-minute rain delay.
YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Tiger Woods, hitting out of the bunker on No. 2, was bothered by a sore left wrist and a 45-minute rain delay.
Posted: June 14, 2013

TIGER WOODS looked uncomfortable from the moment he stepped to the first tee at Merion.

Discomfort turned into downright disgust long before he could even finish 11 holes, thanks to a 45-minute rain delay and an apparent left wrist injury suffered on the fifth hole when he tried to pound a 5-wood out of the overgrown rough.

Woods placed his tee on the 11th green at 8:21 p.m., after play was suspended due to darkness, choosing to walk away from a 5-foot bogey try - even after the No. 2 and No. 3 ranked players in the world had holed their putts seconds earlier.

Here's everything that happened in between with Woods, Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy:

4:44 p.m.: After a 3-hour and 32-minute morning rain delay, Tiger trudges past a buzzing gallery as the 102nd player to tee off in Round 1. After a roar from the crowd when the three-time U.S. Open winner is introduced, the fun ends. Sweaty fans groan after his far-right tee shot lands in a bunker, and again after he misses a par putt. Tiger three-putts before McIlroy even takes his putter out of the bag.

5:03: Tiger motions for the gallery to quiet down so Scott can shoot.

5:04: Scott learns just how thick the rough is at Merion. His second shot from the tough stuff is a bit chunky, but sets up nicely for a layup on the 567-yard par 5.

Scott, the reigning Masters champion, is assisted by Tiger's former caddie, Steve Williams. He's the only player in the group, though, to not win a U.S. Open.

"I was a little nervous to start, you could see that in my first couple swings for sure," Scott says afterward.

5:13: This is still Philly. Patrons around the tight green have choice words for reporters and photographers suddenly invading their space. "We've waited 2 hours at this spot," they say. Good point. This reporter takes a knee, just in time to watch Woods' birdie putt drop into the cup.

5:21: As Tiger puts tee to ball, Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen and former Flyer Derian Hatcher are spotted watching with awe just feet from the third tee.

5:24: A USGA official takes out his iPhone to show me the latest radar. Impending doom.

5:29: McIlroy's tee shot on the par-3 third hole lands squarely in a bunker. Once the Northern Irishman climbs in, the lip is at least 6 feet above his head. It's a referendum on both how tiny McIlroy is and how daunting the ghosts of Merion can be. He sticks it close.

5:31: Woods bogeys to fall to 1-over, quickly losing ground to Scott, who birdies to go to 2-under.

5:40: Scott is going for it on the monster, 640-yard par-5 No. 4 from the fairway. He nets a sandy for bird, but McIlroy is also able to birdie after nestling his third shot feet from the pin. Tiger escapes with par.

5:46: There is a rumble of thunder. Or, I tell myself, it's just the roar for Luke Donald two holes ahead.

5:52: The skies darken and it begins to rain heavier, as the players line up tee shots on the daunting fifth hole.

5:58: Just off the fairway, Tiger pulls a shiny red 5-wood from his bag. After following through in the deep stuff, on a shot that bounces near the stick before rolling off the back, he shakes his left hand in apparent pain.

It would clearly hinder the rest of his round.

6:01: Scott deliberates while his tee shot lays 5 feet to the left of a red-painted line, marking the hazard for a treacherous creek below. Snitches from around the country call into the USGA to say Scott grounded his club in the hazard, which is not allowed, but I was no more than 10 feet away. He never grounded his club.

The USGA made an official statement after the round, saying a nearby rules official agreed with Scott that he did not ground the club. Case closed.

6:05: Tiger backs off a delicate chip from the edge of the green after a grandstanding fan screams while he's preparing. His frustration is mounting.

His chip is short. And so is his putt, demonstrating his respect for the Merion greens.

6:10: Horns sound as fans boo. They know the drill. With players already standing under umbrellas in steady rain, play is suspended for the second time.

6:54: Play resumes quickly, but hardly anyone sticks around to watch. Tiger removes his tee on the fifth green, marking his ball, and sinks his bogey putt to fall to 2-over. It's the second time he's bogeyed three of the first five holes in a U.S. Open, which he also did in 2006 at Winged Foot.

7:14: Tiger nails a lengthy birdie bid on the sixth hole.

7:31: The drives of Tiger and Scott on the eighth are within 10 yards of each other. One woman close to the ropes screams: "I've never seen two balls that close together in my life. Welcome to Delco!" For the record, Ardmore is half in Montgomery County and half in Delaware County.

7:34: Tiger sticks it ridiculously close to the well-guarded pin but is unable to drop the birdie putt.

7:53: On the par-3 ninth hole, Tiger runs a 40-footer well past the hole. He jumps over to double-check his line. He then misses an 8-footer for par, swinging his club in disgust, to drop to 2-over again. Scott is already four shots ahead and cruising.

8:01: After a phenomenal tee shot on 10, Tiger drops his second shot well inside both Scott and McIlroy.

8:07: Within 5 feet, Tiger blows a birdie putt. A roving television commentator standing next to the green puts his microphone down and says what a terrible stroke Tiger put on the ball. Woods is averaging 1.89 putts through 10 holes.

8:12: Tiger is mentally gone. After his tee shot in the left rough, he lags at least 100 feet behind his caddie and the rest of the group.

8:15: Tiger tries to muscle his second stroke out of the thick stuff, but it hits a tree and lands well short of the bunker on the 11th hole. It's very un-Tiger like. He seems so disinterested.

On his way to his third shot, Tiger is shaking his left hand and rubbing his wrist.

8:16: Even when Tiger is disinterested, he flops one within 8 feet. The nearby Norristown High Speed Line roars past the quiet green, as a group of fans watch from a quaint patio in their backyard. This is still the Main Line, after all.

8:17: It's getting tougher to see the ball - and players are notified by officials that play has been suspended for the night.

As is their option, McIlroy rolls his bogey putt and Scott sinks his birdie to close out 11. Tiger chooses to drag his bogey bid into today, lucky to escape the jaws of Merion due to darkness. He swears his wrist is fine.

"It's going to be a fast night," Tiger said. "I'm doing fine and I'm looking forward to getting back out there [today]."

DN Members Only : Marcus Hayes on the challenge of Merion's finishing holes.

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