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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 June 2006, 22:44 GMT 23:44 UK
Woods toils on return to action
Tiger Woods
A hard course and a rusty swing added up to a tough day for Woods
World number one Tiger Woods had to fall back on all his fighting abilities on a tough first day at the US Open.

The 30-year-old American was playing for the first time since his father Earl died on 3 May, and his last event was nine weeks ago at the Masters.

The rustiness in his game was clear to all as he sprayed his ball around a testing Winged Foot lay-out.

Seven over after 12 holes, he birdied the 15th and parred the last three to card a six-over 76, seven off the lead.

Woods' round was his highest score in a major since a 76 in the final round of the 2004 US Open at Shinnecock Hills.

Usually US Open greens are really quick - these are slow and bumpy

Tiger Woods

Six bogeys and a solitary birdie at the par-five 5th gave him an outward nine of five-over 40. He then doubled the 12th.

At this point Woods, whose 10 major titles include two US Opens, looked unlikely to break 80 but he steadied the ship, as he has so often before, and was one under for the last six holes.

He later blamed his slow start on not getting to grips with the greens.

"Usually US Open greens are really quick," he said. "These are not. They're slow and bumpy. I didn't feel hardly any rust and if I had just made the adjustment on the greens faster I would not be so far behind the eight-ball.

"I just got off to a bad start early, and with the wind blowing it was going to be hard to make up shots."

But he refused to rule himself out of title contention this weekend.

"You've just got to plod along," Woods said of his strategy for recovering. "It's been done before.

"I just have to grind it out and if I can shoot under par the next two days I will be right up there. Last year was a lot easier than this and there was no-one under par by the end of the week."

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