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The 14-time major champion got his wish. On Thursday, the Rees Jones redesign held up like the tough U.S. Open course that it promised to be in 2011.
Woods shot a 1-over-par 72 in his first round on a very humid afternoon, where the field stroke average was more than 2 strokes over par. There were four scores in the 80s.
"I think we've played three U.S. Opens so far this year," Woods said. "At Bay Hill, Olympic and now here. It's a great test. At least at Olympic, you could get the ball to land on the green out of the graduated rough. But this week, there is no graduated rough. If it's not in the fairway, it's in the deep stuff.
"So it's a different setup. It's hard and fast and we have to be careful, and [if] we have an opportunity to be aggressive, we have to do it."
Woods had two birdies and three bogeys in his opening round. The short game that hurt him at Olympic, where he was only 2-of-11 in sand saves, continued to plague him Thursday. At Nos. 15 and 16, he failed to get up and down from greenside bunkers.
"My 60-degree wedge is not built for this much sand," Woods said. "I have to make an adjustment to make sure that my entry point is a fraction closer to the golf ball."
This was Woods' first competitive round on the Blue Course at Congressional since it underwent renovations prior to last year's U.S. Open. Leg injuries kept Woods out of that championship.
Before the AT&T National moved for a couple of years to Aronimink near Philadelphia, Woods won here in 2009 with a 13-under total.
That week 36 players shot under par in the first round, including Anthony Kim, who had an 8-under 62 when the course was a par-70, 7,255-yard layout.
Last year in soft conditions on the new, longer course at the U.S. Open, Rory McIlroy jumped out to a lead he never relinquished with a first-round 65.
A year later, Bo Van Pelt is the first-round leader after a 4-under 67 here Thursday. Van Pelt has a 1-shot lead over three players, including three-time major champion Vijay Singh.