Tiger Woods fired a scrambling 1-over-par 72 Thursday in the first round of the $6.5 million AT&T National at toasty Congressional Golf Club in Bethesda, Md. Playing in temperatures in the low 90s, he carded two birdies and three bogeys in fast, difficult conditions.
"I think we've played in three U.S. Opens so far this year," said Woods, who is tied for 30th. "At Bay Hill, Olympic and now here. It's a great test."
Only 22 players broke par, headed by Bo Van Pelt with a 67. The average score was 2 1/2 strokes over par.
"It's amazing how springy the greens are," Woods said. "It's very similar to what we played at Olympic. It's survival. The ball will bounce as high as it flies on some holes."
Asked if the setup was payback for hosting last year's U.S. Open, when Rory McIlroy won on the rain-softened Congressional with a 16-under score, Woods didn't disagree.
"It's certainly a little retribution," said Woods, who was injured. "Don't be mad at me. I didn't play."
Tiger hit only seven of 14 fairways and 11 of 18 greens in regulation and used 29 putts. After struggling in the bunkers at Olympic, he had similar issues Thursday, failing to get up and down at Nos. 15 and 16.
"My 60-degree wedge is not made for this much sand," he said. "I have to make an adjustment to make sure that my entry point is a fraction closer to the golf ball."
Tiger, who won this event at Congressional in 2009 and tied for sixth in 2007 in previous appearances, was a late starter with K.J. Choi and defending champion Nick Watney. Woods parred the first three holes, then bogeyed the par-4 fourth.
He followed with four consecutive pars, and closed out the front nine with a birdie at the par-5 ninth to make the turn in even-par 36.
On the back nine, Tiger parred No. 10, then bogeyed the par-4 11th. After parring 12 and 13, he birdied the par-4 14th hole.
Woods dropped another shot at the par-4 15th hole, then finished his round with pars at 16, 17 and 18.
"I didn't hit it that bad today," said Woods, who has two PGA Tour victories this year. "I just didn't get a lot out of my round."
On Friday, he draws a 7:50 a.m. ET starting time on the 10th tee with Choi and Watney.
"I think it's going to be interesting as the week goes on, as it gets hotter, how this golf course is going to play, because it's going to get baked out, and I don't think they're going to be able to put water on it while we're playing," he said. "It will be interesting to see how the afternoon guys do over the next three days."