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Woods battles injury, and changing conditions at Merion

Tiger Woods of the U.S. looks at his birdie putt on the 13th green during completion of the weather delayed first round of the 2013 U.S. Ope
Tiger Woods of the U.S. looks at his birdie putt on the 13th green during completion of the weather delayed first round of the 2013 U.S. Ope

By Larry Fine

ARDMORE, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Tiger Woods, battling an injury and changing conditions at Merion, had two bogeys and a birdie Friday morning to complete a three-over 73, six shots behind U.S. Open leader Phil Mickelson.

Woods returned to finish eight holes in the weather-delayed first round. After sinking a short par-putt at the 11th, he bogeyed the 12th, birdied the short par-three 13th and bogeyed 17.

The world number one, seeking to end a five-year drought in his pursuit of a 15th major title, had shaken his left arm in discomfort after hitting a shot from the rough on the 11th hole shortly before play was suspended Thursday due to fading light.

"My left arm didn't feel very good on that shot. A few shots," said 37-year-old Woods.

"But overall it was not too bad a round. I certainly had two three putts and a boatload of putts and the round could have easily been under par. So that's good heading into this afternoon."

Woods, who rarely reveals anything about an injury during competition, was asked what he felt when he winced after his shot on 11.

"Pain," he said. "But it is what it is and you move on and I got to get ready for this next round in a little bit."

CHILLY RETURN

Woods said the greens were quicker in his chilly, early morning return to Merion.

"It's unbelievable how much faster they were this morning. That pin on 12 is a little quick from above and I barely hit mine (putt) and I ran it by about eight feet."

Winner of four tournaments so far this season, Woods rued a number of lost opportunities squandered on the greens.

"It's one of those golf courses where there's some easy holes and there's some hard holes that follow. And you got to take care of the easy holes and try and get through the hard ones," he said.

"And for some reason I left myself quite a few putts (that) were easily makeable and I didn't make any."

Woods got a bad break at the par-three 17th when he hit high, soft shot from heavy grass above the greenside bunker that stopped on the fringe, just short of reaching a downhill slope running toward the cup.

"I hit a good pitch and the wind killed it. You could see it stall out," said Woods, "and it was just a few inches from getting all the way down to the hole."

Instead he took two shots to get down and took a bogey.

(Reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)

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