Tiger Woods along with officials and media members look for a ball on the sixth hole during the first round of the 118th US Open Championship at Shinnecock Hills. Photo: Justin Lane/EPA

SOUTHAMPTON – Tiger Woods returned to the US Open with an eight-over par 78 at Shinnecock Hills on Thursday, his worst ever score in the championship leaving him nine shots off the first-round lead.

Woods, who counts three US Open titles among his 14 majors, hadn't played in the tournament since 2015.

He opened with a triple bogey seven at the first hole and would make two double bogeys - including a four-putt at 13 - before he was done.

Woods' previous worst US Open round was a 77 in the third round at Oakland Hills in 1996.

The 42-year-old, whose major title drought now stretches back to his 2008 US Open victory at Torrey Pines, will face an uphill battle just to make the cut.
The intensely competitive star indicated he was up for the challenge.

“Shoot something in the 60s tomorrow, and I'll be just fine,” he insisted.

Despite the difficult, windy conditions, Woods said it was his own game that let him down - particularly his putting.

Tiger Woods hits on the sixth hole during the first round of the 118th US Open Championship at Shinnecock Hills. Photo: Justin Lane/EPA

“I didn't putt well today,” he said. “I drove it pretty darn good for most of the day, just never took advantage of the opportunities.”

He'd seen the high scores of the morning starters, Woods said, and went out aiming to keep anything worse than a bogey off his card.
“My game plan was not to make any 'others' and I made three of them.”

Things looked promising when Woods found the fairway at the first, but his second shot rolled through the green and he would need three shots to reach the elevated green, finally two-putting for a seven.

A bogey at the second didn't rattle him.

“All I had to do after that start was shoot even par over the next 16 holes and I'd be just fine,” he said.

Woods did play the next 10 holes in even par - with one birdie and one bogey.

But he came unstuck with his four-putt from 40 feet at 13.

“I was worried about running the (first) putt by, left it short, blocked the next one, then blocked it again,” said Woods, who added another double at 14. “Not very good.”

Agence France-Presse (AFP)