WATCH: Tiger Woods robbed of fourth straight birdie after brutal lip-out

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods makes a long birdie putt during the first round of the 2020 U.S. Open.

Golfchannel.com

Expectations were low for Tiger Woods heading into the 2020 U.S. Open, but halfway through his opening round at Winged Foot, the reigning Masters champion seemed like he was going to blow those expectations away.

Many observers, most notably Brandel Chamblee, thought two parts of Tiger’s game would undo him at the historically difficult course: his driving accuracy and his putting. But so far, Woods hit plenty of fairways early on in the first round, and rolled the rock extraordinarily well.

Woods got off to a steady start, piping his drive down the fairway at the 1st, knocked his approach to 21 feet and two-putted for par, then followed with two more pars at 2 and 3.

Adversity struck soon after at 4 and 5, where a few squirrely lies in Winged Foot’s thick rough produced back-to-back bogeys. He made birdie at 6, before quickly giving that shot back with a bogey at 8.

But just before the turn, everything changed for Woods. At 9, Tiger’s putter started getting to work, beginning with a 30-foot bomb for birdie to move back to one over.

At the par-3 10th, he hit a solid approach that left a somewhat easy two-putt from 24 feet. Instead, he rolled that one too, making it back-to-back birdie to get to improve to even par.

But his trusty Scotty Cameron putter (along with a new/old grip) wasn’t done yet. Tiger rolled in a 20-footer for another birdie on 11 to reach red numbers.

At that point, he was one of just nine players under par on a tough course that was getting tougher by the hour, with the greens drying out and firing up. Fortunately for him, a great opportunity presented itself in the long par-5 12th hole.

He got off to a great start on 12, pounding a 327-yard drive into the right fairway; he then hit a 259-yard layup, setting up a tricky approach to a trickier green from 60 yards. But Tiger lofted a beautiful wedge just past the hole and spun it back to 17 feet below the hole.

Tiger’s putt looked good for all 17 of those feet, and it looked like a fourth-straight birdie was imminent. But his ball performed a 180-degree turn around the back of the cup, lipping out, and leaving Tiger shaking his head.

Unfortunately for Tiger and his many fans, things fell apart at the finish. Woods missed a par putt at 17, and then doubled the 18th to sign for a three-over 73 in Round 1.

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Kevin Cunningham

Golf.com Editor

As managing producer for GOLF.com, Cunningham edits, writes and publishes stories on GOLF.com, and manages the brand’s e-newsletters, which reach more than 1.4 million subscribers each month. A former two-time intern, he also helps keep GOLF.com humming outside the news-breaking stories and service content provided by our reporters and writers, and works with the tech team in the development of new products and innovative ways to deliver an engaging site to our audience.