U.S. Open

Pinehurst Resort & Country Club (Course No. 2)

The Loop

Soltau: Woods Relaxed Despite Slow Start

April 11, 2008

AUGUSTA, Ga. -â¿¿ Swirling winds, sun-baked greens, slow play and operator error contributed to a frustrating front nine for Tiger Woods on Friday. He made the turn in even-par 36, bogeyed the 10th with a three-putt from the fringe, holed an eight-footer for par on No. 11 and was one over on the 12th tee, nine strokes behind tournament leader Trevor Immelman.

The second round started promisingly when Woods birdied the par-4 first hole, snapping a 34-hole birdie drought at Augusta. The huge gallery, five and six deep, roared its approval, but not before a patron was escorted off the course when his cell phone rang.

"The Yankees must be coming!" said a fan, when spectators scattered toward the par-5 second hole.

Late starters dealt with strong breezes, adding one and two clubs on some holes. The wind wasn't to blame at No. 2, where Woods put himself in ideal position just short of the green in two with a good angle to the back-left flag and dumped a sand wedge into the front-left bunker--possibly the result of a sand divot--and departed with a bogey.

When the trio walked off the third green, they were one hour into the round and endured a 10-minute wait on the fourth tee. "It's a death march," said a veteran caddie.

Woods wasn't pleased after missing a 10-foot birdie putt, but didn't vent. He took a long sip of Gatorade and practiced his stroke on the fourth tee, which is faster than most country club's greens.

Woods gave back another shot at the par-3 sixth, three-putting from the front of the green. Again, he remained calm. After pounding a long drive at the par-5 eighth, he walked up the fairway laughing with Appleby, examining his driver. Woods nearly eagled the hole, missing a 15-foot eagle attempt. And, the frustration continued at the par-4 ninth, when a seemingly perfect chip refused to fall.

--Mark Soltau