Let’s just be honest here for a moment — this week is supposed to be Tiger Woods‘s major championship rebirth. Experts and casual fans alike have had this tournament marked on their “Woods-watch” calendars. Merion Golf Club, host of the U.S. Open, was supposedly Tiger’s best chance this side of Augusta National to take down career major number 15.
Then, of course, Mother Nature came into play. Not only was the golf course in virtually unplayable condition all week leading up to the event — minimizing everybody’s practice time — but the rain was going to make the course soft, leading to lower scores than USGA officials care to see in their premier championship.
What happened Thursday, though, was more than any forecaster could have predicted.
When play at Merion was suspended the first time, it was expected. Then, after the grouping of Woods, Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott finally did get going, they were halted again due to the lightning in the area. As opening round was finally suspended due to darkness, Woods had carded four bogeys and just two birdies (including the amazing 50-footer on No. 6) to go in at +2 for the night.
What’s got to have Tiger fans concerned tonight, though, is the way Woods was seen favoring his left wrist and arm after many shots. The rough at Merion is punitive, to say the least, and he looked quite uncomfortable throughout the afternoon’s play.
Woods didn’t speak to reporters on Thursday night, but he did say through a USGA media official that he feels fine.
That’s no help, however. This is the same guy who played an entire 18-hole playoff against Rocco Mediate in the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines on one good knee. He won that tournament, marked off another major, and then missed the rest of the year after arthroscopic surgery. He could have a compound fracture of his arm, and during a major week, he’d look you in the eye and swear it was just a scratch.
As anybody who’s ever played golf can tell you, hitting out of that thick rough can do a number on your hands and wrists, so perhaps it was just temporary discomfort that’ll be better after some Advil and a night’s rest. Still, it’s something to keep an eye on as the tournament progresses.