posted on Jul, 17 2003 @ 08:37 AM
Tiger Woods looked like a weekend hacker on the first hole of the British Open while Masters champion Mike Weir struggled to a 3-over-par 74 in the
first round Thursday.
Trying to snap a four-major losing streak, Woods lost his ball on his very first shot at damp, windy Royal St. George's. He wound up taking a
triple-bogey 7, already facing a big deficit in a tournament that had barely started.
South African Hennie Otto was the surprise leader in the clubhouse, shooting a 3-under-par 68 in the first group of the day.
Greg Norman, returning to the site of his 1993 British Open victory, was 3-under through 14 holes.
Weir, from Bright's Grove, Ont., bogeyed the first two holes of the day before getting that back with an eagle-3 on the par-5, 532-yard No. 7 hole.
But three more bogeys at No. 8, No. 11 and No. 17 left him with a 74.
All eyes were on Woods, lacking a major title for the first time since 1999. If the first hole was any indication, that streak will remain intact.
Woods pushed his opening tee shot into the ankle-deep rough along the right side of the fairway. Even though about 20 people scoured the grass in
search of the ball, it never turned up during the five-minute search allowed under the rules.
When the time limit expired, Woods pulled his driver out of the bag again, unleashed an expletive and hopped in a cart for the long, lonely ride back
to the tee.
His next shot -- actually, his third after taking a one-stroke penalty -- wasn't much better, sailing into the same rough where marshals were still
looking for the first ball.
This time, Woods didn't have any trouble locating the ball, but all he could do was hack it through the fairway, winding up near some television
cables left of the fairway.
Woods finally reached the green with a wedge, but an 18-foot putt came up short. He tapped in for a triple-bogey are walked off the green muttering to
Woods managed to settle himself, rolling in a six-footer for birdie at No. 4. He was 2-over through 12 holes.
Ernie Els, hoping to become the first repeat winner at the British in 20 years, was scheduled to tee off in the afternoon. He'll find conditions more
customary for this event -- overnight rains softened the grass, which baked under a sweltering sun earlier in the week.
Norman certainly feels comfortable at Royal St. George's, where he captured the British a decade ago by shooting a final-round 64. The 48-year-old
Shark hasn't won a tournament since 1998, and back problems have limited him to just two PGA Tour events this year.
But he was feeling no pain as play began Thursday, making an eagle at No. 4 to surge to the top of the leaderboard.