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Oakland Hills Grabs Tiger by the Tail in First Round

TIMES STAFF WRITER

When you start playing badly in golf, they say the wheels are coming off. Well, take a look at poor Tiger Woods.

There he was, cruising along with a share of the first-round lead in the U.S. Open and he cracked up. The Tiger Woods bandwagon was involved in a very serious one-car wreck Thursday at Oakland Hills Country Club.

The wheels came off, the tires went flat, the engine blew up, the frame collapsed, the bumpers melted and the radio got stuck playing “Taps.”

Woods played the last five holes in nine over par, turning a potential 67 into a 76, going from three under par to six over, and covering those last five holes in 28 strokes.

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So instead of the 20-year-old U.S. Amateur champion leading the U.S. Open at the end of the first day, that honor went to Payne Stewart, who was once the U.S. Open champion, and Woody Austin, who was once a bank teller.

Both Stewart and Austin toured the mushy layout softened by rain in 67, three under, and led Lee Janzen and John Morse by a shot.

There are eight tied at 69: Frank Nobilo, Paul Azinger, Jumbo Ozaki, Philip Walton and qualifiers David Berganio, Bob Ford, Gary Trivisonno and Stewart Cink.

After taking a few moments to calm himself in the locker room, Woods held a brief news conference next to a hospitality tent.

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“I am fine,” he said evenly. “Life goes on. Tomorrow is another day.”

He sounded as if he was trying pretty hard to convince himself.

Maybe he was, but Earl Woods said his son shouldn’t be down simply because he happened to finish bogey, double bogey, quadruple bogey, bogey, bogey.

“He’s been through this before,” the elder Woods said. “Maybe not in a tournament of this magnitude, but he’s played like a bum before.”

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Gee, thanks, Dad.

On a bright and sunny opening day, the star trio of Woods, John Daly and defending champion Corey Pavin was attracting huge crowds.

Ten marshals and four policeman shepherded the group.

Woods was absolutely beaming early. He holed out a wedge from 60 yards on No. 5 for birdie, then hit the flagstick on No. 6 with his approach for another birdie.

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He had an eagle putt to take the lead by himself on the par-five 12th, but his two-putt birdie still put him three under and tied with Stewart and Austin.

But Woods seemed to become unnerved when his second shot from 187 yards on the par-four 14th stopped on the back fringe of the green. He asked for a ruling, saying there was a sprinkler head in the way, but he couldn’t get relief because he was not on the green.

He hit a poor chip shot to eight feet right of the hole, then missed the putt and took a bogey.

On the 15th, he pulled his tee shot into the left rough and blasted out to the front fringe. He chipped 12 feet past the hole and missed that one, then missed a two-footer and made a double bogey.

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On the 16th, Woods pushed his six-iron approach into the pond. He took a drop and hit a sand wedge, but the ball spun back off the green into the water again. Woods took another drop. He knocked the ball 18 feet above the hole and two-putted for quadruple-bogey eight.

On the 17th, he three-putted.

And on the 18th, he drove into the left rough, hit his second shot through the green into the rough, hit a flop shot on the green to 10 feet, then missed the putt.

“Unfortunately, my swing kind of left me a little bit,” Woods said. “Out here, you can’t do that.”

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Not if you want to stay in the tournament. Earl Woods said Tiger was guilty of nothing worse than getting off to a bad start.

“He dug himself a big hole and we don’t like that,” the elder Woods said. “And it wouldn’t surprise me if he made the cut.”

Meanwhile, Stewart, the 1991 Open champion, felt really good about his round, even though he missed five fairways, which isn’t the way to play this course.

“I had a lot of fun out there today and I’m just going to laugh all day about it too,” said Stewart, who had seven birdies but also a double bogey on the par-three ninth.

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Then there was Austin. You take a former bank teller, let him swing a golf club in his first U.S. Open and what do you get?

If it’s Albert Woody Austin, you get a share of the 18-hole lead at tony Oakland Hills, where members pay a $48,000 initiation fee and probably consider bank employees as important as, say, caddies.

Austin, 32, spent seven years behind the counter at the GT Federal Credit Union in Tampa, Fla., until he earned his PGA Tour card in the 1994 qualifying school.

It has been a long and bumpy road for Austin to reach his first U.S. Open. He spent 1994 on the Nike Tour and won $72,206, or about what he might handle on a good day at the credit union.

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“I could have given up a long time ago,” Austin said.

Then last year on the PGA Tour, Austin made deposits of $736,497, which included the $216,000 he made for winning the Buick Classic.

But he hasn’t forgotten his days at the bank, where his duties were pretty simple.

“Just go in and get in there and take people’s money and give it back to them,” he said. “I was there for so long, I could have moved up through the system and been a manager, a bank manager, whatever.”

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As for Woods, his next career decision will also be about money--whether he should say two years at Stanford are sufficient and turn on the money faucet by becoming a pro.

That kind of choice can wait, said Earl Woods, who knows very well the pros and cons of the pros and college.

“Professional golfers are entertainers and you pay to watch them play,” he said. “On top of that, he’s not even getting paid. I’m paying for it.”

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

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FIRST-ROUND LEADERS

At Bloomfield Hills, Mich.--Par 70

Woody Austin: 35-32--67 -3

Payne Stewart: 36-31--67 -3

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Lee Janzen: 33-35--68 -2

John Morse: 32-36--68 -2

Paul Azinger: 34-35--69 -1

David Berganio: 37-32--69 -1

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Bob Ford: 35-34--69 -1

Philip Walton: 34-35--69 -1

Gary Trivisonno: 34-35--69 -1

Stewart Cink: 34-35--69 -1

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Frank Nobilo: 33-36--69 -1

Jumbo Ozaki: 33-36--69 -1

12 tied at 70

* NOTES

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Sylmar’s David Berganio led the Open--for two hours. C6

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

FIRST-ROUND SCORES At Bloomfield Hills, Mich.--Par 70

Woody Austin: 35-32--67 -3

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Payne Stewart: 36-31--67 -3

Lee Janzen: 33-35--68 -2

John Morse: 32-36--68 -2

Paul Azinger: 34-35--69 -1

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David Berganio: 37-32--69 -1

Bob Ford: 35-34--69 -1

Philip Walton: 34-35--69 -1

Gary Trivisonno: 34-35--69 -1

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Stewart Cink: 34-35--69 -1

Frank Nobilo: 33-36--69 -1

Masashi Ozaki: 33-36--69 -1

Curt Byrum: 33-37--70 E

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Scott Simpson: 35-35--70 E

Colin Montgomerie: 35-35--70 E

Kirk Triplett: 36-34--70 E

Tom Watson: 36-34--70 E

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Craig Parry: 37-33--70 E

Jeff Sluman: 33-37--70 E

Michael Campbell: 34-36--70 E

John Cook: 35-35--70 E

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Brad Faxon: 36-34--70 E

Brett Ogle: 37-33--70 E

Michael Bradley: 38-32--70 E

Jack O’Keefe: 34-37--71 +1

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Vijay Singh: 34-37--71 +1

Wayne Grady: 36-35--71 +1

Kelly Gibson: 37-34--71 +1

Sam Torrance: 35-36--71 +1

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Peter Jacobsen: 37-34--71 +1

Blaine McCallister: 36-35--71 +1

a-Steve Scott: 34-37--71 +1

Justin Leonard: 35-36--71 +1

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Kent Jones: 36-35--71 +1

Paul Goydos: 33-38--71 +1

Mike Swartz: 35-36--71 +1

Javier Sanchez: 36-35--71 +1

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Anthony Rodriguez: 37-34--71 +1

Davis Love III: 36-35--71 +1

Constantino Rocca: 35-36--71 +1

Tom Lehman: 36-35--71 +1

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Jim Gallagher: 34-37--71 +1

Sean Murphy: 34-37--71 +1

Peter Jordan: 35-36--71 +1

Jim Furyk: 37-35--72 +2

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Hale Irwin: 37-35--72 +2

Ian Woosnam: 34-38--72 +2

Ernie Els: 38-34--72 +2

Jack Nicklaus: 36-36--72 +2

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Nick Faldo: 36-36--72 +2

Bob Tway: 35-37--72 +2

Steve Elkington: 35-37--72 +2

Mark O’Meara: 36-36--72 +2

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Scott McCarron: 34-38--72 +2

David Edwards: 36-36--72 +2

Daniel Forsman: 34-38--72 +2

Michael Christie: 37-35--72 +2

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Billy Andrade: 36-36--72 +2

Billy Mayfair: 38-34--72 +2

John Daly: 35-37--72 +2

Wayne Westner: 34-38--72 +2

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Loren Roberts: 35-37--72 +2

David Ogrin: 36-36--72 +2

Steve Gotsche: 36-36--72 +2

Steve Lowery: 35-38--73 +3

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Wayne Riley: 38-35--73 +3

Duffy Waldorf: 37-36--73 +3

Brad Bryant: 35-38--73 +3

Olin Browne: 35-38--73 +3

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Mike Heinen: 36-37--73 +3

Joey Gullion: 38-35--73 +3

Ken Green: 35-38--73 +3

Bob Gilder: 38-35--73 +3

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John Huston: 34-39--73 +3

Shawn Kelly: 37-36--73 +3

Francis Quinn: 37-36--73 +3

Corey Pavin: 36-37--73 +3

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Jay Haas: 36-37--73 +3

Greg Norman: 37-36--73 +3

Kevin Sutherland: 36-37--73 +3

Kenny Perry: 38-35--73 +3

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Scott Hoch: 37-36--73 +3

Bill Porter: 38-35--73 +3

Larry Mize: 37-37--74 +4

Alexander Cejka: 37-37--74 +4

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Fred Funk: 36-38--74 +4

Steve Jones: 36-38--74 +4

Mark Wiebe: 38-36--74 +4

Steve Jurgensen: 36-38--74 +4

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Ted Tryba: 38-36--74 +4

Steve Stricker: 35-39--74 +4

Anders Forsbrand: 37-37--74 +4

Curtis Strange: 37-37--74 +4

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Neal Lancaster: 37-37--74 +4

David Gilford: 39-35--74 +4

Tom Pernice Jr: 34-40--74 +4

Paul Eales: 39-35--74 +4

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Jeffrey Julian: 37-37--74 +4

Mark James: 36-39--75 +5

David Duval: 37-38--75 +5

a-Jay Hobby Jr.: 36-39--75 +5

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Brandt Jobe: 34-41--75 +5

Peter O’Malley: 36-39--75 +5

Tim Herron: 35-40--75 +5

Scott Gump: 37-38--75 +5

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Peter Teravainen: 35-40--75 +5

Jeff Maggert: 40-35--75 +5

Lucas Parsons: 38-37--75 +5

Barry Lane: 36-39--75 +5

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Bernhard Langer: 35-40--75 +5

Frank Lickliter: 36-39--75 +5

Jim Thorpe: 37-38--75 +5

Dennis Harrington: 39-36--75 +5

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Brian Gay: 37-38--75 +5

Tom Kite: 38-38--76 +6

Bryan Hughett: 40-36--76 +6

Tom Weiskopf: 35-41--76 +6

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Phil Mickelson: 40-36--76 +6

John Flannery: 38-38--76 +6

David Toms: 36-40--76 +6

J.L. Lewis: 38-38--76 +6

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William Murchison: 38-38--76 +6

a-Tiger Woods: 33-43--76 +6

Tom Purtzer: 38-38--76 +6

Mark Brooks: 37-39--76 +6

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Mark McCumber: 39-37--76 +6

Omar Uresti: 36-40--76 +6

Andrew Morse: 40-36--76 +6

Tommy Tolles: 38-39--77 +7

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Mark Calcavecchia: 38-39--77 +7

Darren Clarke: 38-39--77 +7

a-Randy Leen: 37-40--77 +7

Todd Demsey: 38-39--77 +7

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Darrell Kestner: 39-38--77 +7

Skip Kendall: 39-38--77 +7

Kent Wiese: 42-35--77 +7

a-Reid Edstrom: 37-40--77 +7

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Brian Henninger: 39-39--78 +8

Emlyn Aubrey: 39-39--78 +8

Darrett Brinker: 38-40--78 +8

David Frost: 37-41--78 +8

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Philip Blackmar: 38-40--78 +8

Mike Burke Jr: 39-39--78 +8

Carl Paulson: 38-40--78 +8

Scott Dunlap: 40-38--78 +8

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Rick Yokota: 39-40--79 +9

a-Trip Kuehne: 36-43--79 +9

Ronald Ewing: 40-40--80 +10

Ty Armstrong: 44-36--80 +10

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Ben Crenshaw: 39-41--80 +10

Steve Flesch: 41-39--80 +10

Tad Holloway: 43-37--80 +10

Greg Lesher: 42-39--81 +11

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Charles Raulerson: 40-43--83 +13

Ian Baker-Finch: 46-38--84 +14

Grant Waite: 40-41--81--DQ

a--amateur

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DQ--disqualified


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