Woods Leads at Foggy U.S. Open

Friday, June 16th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Tiger Woods is the master of the dramatic comeback. He's doing his best to avoid such theatrics at this week's 100th U.S. Open.

Woods, who rallied from seven strokes back in the final seven holes the last time he played at Pebble Beach, took a one-stroke lead in the Open's first round — which began Thursday morning and was still being played Friday afternoon.

Woods shot a 6-under 65 Thursday that was the best round in an Open at Pebble Beach, which has played host to the event three times before.

``I've always felt it's nice to lead. I've always felt I would much rather have the lead than try to catch up,'' he said. ``I think it's a lot easier to play from a spot near the lead than it is when you're that far behind.''

Fog suspended play Thursday afternoon with 75 golfers still on the course and delayed the resumption of play Friday morning. Dozens of golfers were completing their first round when the second round began Friday morning.

The lousy weather caused havoc with the schedule and made it extremely unlikely the second round could be completed by Friday evening. If there's more fog this weekend, as forecast, the tournament may not be finished before Monday.

Woods, who held a one-stroke lead over Miguel Angel Jimenez, was not scheduled to tee off in the second round until 4 p.m. PDT (7 p.m. EDT) Friday. Jimenez was set to start at 5:20 p.m. PDT (8:20 p.m. PDT).

The fog halted play Thursday afternoon after Jeff Maggert refused to hit his tee shot on the 10th hole because he couldn't see the bunkers down the left side of the fairway. Nearly half the field was still on the course.

The first round resumed Friday at 8:15 a.m. PDT (11:15 a.m. EDT), after another 90-minute delay caused by more thick fog on the Monterey Peninsula, and the second round began 75 minutes later.

The delays left golfers frustrated, and many spent the early morning going back and forth to the driving range. The range was packed by midmorning, with conditions so crowded Glen Day was forced to hit balls off a nearby cart path.

``This will be my third warmup today, and it probably won't be my last,'' 1992 Open champion Tom Kite said as he headed back to the practice range.

Among those still on the course when play was suspended Thursday was Nick Faldo, who was two shots off the lead at 4 under after 13 holes.

But Faldo had a double-bogey on the 17th Friday morning and finished the round at 2 under. His ball landed in a bunker on the 17th and he needed two shots to get out of the sand. Faldo then two-putted from 15 feet for his double bogey.

``It's hard work out there,'' Faldo said. ``I got up at 4 and practiced to play. At 6:45 it was perfect, and then we all had to come back again.''

Woods already has shown he can come back to win. In his last visit to this course, he made three birdies and an eagle in the final seven holes to win the National Pro-Am in early February.

By playing so well Thursday, Woods put himself in a comfortable position and added to the aura of invincibility of a player who has won 11 of his last 20 PGA Tour events.

Woods, the tournament's overwhelming favorite, finished off his round with a birdie on 18, blasting out of the sand to within 18 inches of the cup.

``I played well all day. I drove the ball beautifully, and I made a lot of putts,'' he said. ``I made a lot of crucial putts, and you have to do that in a U.S. Open.''

Woods made his move Thursday just as fog and wind rolled in from the Pacific Ocean, erasing the calm of a sunny, warm morning. By the end, he had a 1-stroke lead over Jimenez, a Spaniard who has never won a tournament in the United States.

John Huston finished his round two strokes back of Woods at 4-under 67 and Bobby Clampett, who grew up on the Monterey Peninsula, was one of three players at 68. Clampett was playing in his first Open since 1986 and in his first tournament of the year.

``Can you believe this?'' Clampett said. ``It was extremely emotional for me. At times out there, I was fighting off the tears.''

Also at 68 after the first round were three-time Open champion Hale Irwin and Loren Roberts, who tied for second in the 1994 Open.

``I'm more than happy. I'm delighted,'' said Irwin, the oldest player to win an Open when he captured the title in 1990 at Medinah as a 45-year-old. ``I'm not striking the ball very well, but I've putted well.''

Jack Nicklaus, playing in his 44th consecutive U.S. Open, teed off late Thursday afternoon and bogeyed his first two holes. Nicklaus, who won the 1972 Open at Pebble Beach, finished the first round Friday morning at 2 over.

John Daly wished the fog rolled in just a little earlier. He was at 3 over when he got to the 18th hole Thursday, but then everything fell apart.

Daly hit one ball into someone's back yard, three into the ocean, hit a left-handed shot from against the sea wall in the bunker and ended up with a 14 on the final hole. He walked off the course and withdrew from the tournament.

Daly's career has been plagued by alcoholism and blowups similar to Thursday's final-hole debacle.

``No one knows what is going on through his mind. I like John. He's a fun guy to be around,'' Nicklaus said. ``But obviously, he's his own worst enemy. He's not going to get better until he gets those demons out of his head.''