Chalmers, at the age of 40 still seeking his first victory on the
PGA Tour, fired a five-under-par 66 on a difficult Congressional
Country Club layout bristling with thick rough to take a one-shot
lead in the opening round.
The Australian left-hander picked up three shots in his first nine
holes after teeing off at the par-three 10th, then bogeyed the
second before ending his round in style with birdies at the seventh,
eighth and ninth.
That left Chalmers a stroke in front of long-hitting American Ricky
Barnes and Swede Fredrik Jacobson, who carded matching 67s.
"I really drove the ball well, probably the best I have driven it
all year," Chalmers told PGA Tour Radio. "That kind of set up the
rest of the round, and finishing with three straight birdies is
Chalmers, who has twice finished second on the PGA Tour during his
career, felt he was very fortunate to escape with pars on the only
two occasions when he missed the fairway by more than a couple of
feet off the tee, at the third and fourth.
"It's nasty," he said of the lush rough at Congressional. "I drove
it in the rough twice, on my 12 and 13th holes, and I had real
trouble. I had to lay it up and luckily I got them up and down (for
"You just have to be coming out of the fairway here (with second
shots), and I did do that the majority of the time today."
Defending champion Bill Haas launched his title defense with a 68,
ending the day level with fellow Americans Patrick Reed and Erik
Compton, and South African Tyrone Van Aswegen.
Eight players, including twice former U.S. Open champion Retief
Goosen of South Africa and South Korean K.J. Choi, were knotted on
[to top of second column]
Woods, playing in a high-profile grouping with compatriot Jordan
Spieth and Australian Jason Day, initially looked rusty and
struggled with seven bogeys in his first 12 holes before recording
three birdies in his last six to shoot a 74.
"I made so many little mistakes," Woods, who had surgery to repair a
pinched nerve in his back in March, told reporters after finishing
the round tied for 83rd in a field of 120. "But I played a lot
better than the score indicated, which is good.
"The hard part was just getting into the rhythm of playing
competitively. You play with your buddies all day for cash and stuff
but it's just not the same. It's not the same as tournament golf,
Woods' playing partners also failed to break par in the tough
scoring conditions, Spieth carding a 74 and Day signing for a 73.
"It was a great group," said Woods, whose opening 74 was also
matched by U.S. Open champion Justin Rose of England and reigning
PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner.
"Unfortunately, we didn't see a lot of each other on the front nine.
We were all kind of looking to break 80. It was a bit of a fight for
all of us but we hung in there."
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.