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Tiger Woods touched the lead early Thursday at the 2024 U.S. Open but ultimately saw his name tumble down the leaderboard as the day progressed. Carding a 4-over 74 to open play at Pinehurst No. 2, Woods was unable to parlay his early momentum into a round to remember as inconsistencies throughout the bag hampered a strong start. Woods sits in a tie for 87th and a stroke off the projected cutline as the top 60 and ties will make their way into the weekend.

Alongside Will Zalatoris and Matt Fitzpatrick, Woods made birdie on his opening hole, the par-5 10th, to immediately jump into red figures. He remained there for most of his opening nine as the 15-time major champion leaned heavily on the flat stick. After an 11-foot conversion on the 10th, Woods knocked in par saves from similar distances on Nos. 12-13.

A missed opportunity came on the short par-4 14th when Woods' birdie bid from 11 feet failed to threaten the hole. It would be his last scoring chance for some time as he soon began to take on water. Tiger's first missed fairway on No. 16 led to his first dropped shot, and when his second putt on the par-3 17th fell by the wayside, Woods put his second square on the scorecard.

Making the turn on the par 70 in 36, Woods remained within earshot of the lead. It did not last for long as the 48-year-old's putter betrayed him on the front nine. A 3-putt bogey on No. 1 was followed by short par misses on Nos. 2 and 4. Over the course of a seven-hole stretch, Woods carded five bogeys and drifted as high as 4 over for the championship.

As he has done in this newest chapter of his career, Woods continued to hang tough as the putter became an ally again. A birdie on the par-5 5th came courtesy of a towering 4 iron from the middle of the fairway and preceded ticklish par saves from 8 feet on the difficult par-3 6th and from 17 feet on No. 7.

The pressure on the putter cost Woods one last shot on the par-4 8th as his iron play continued to disappoint. Hitting 12 of 14 fairways and holing enough putts to post a solid score, Woods gave himself just one birdie chance across the par 4s and hit a total of 10 greens in regulation. He bogeyed six of his last 12 holes overall.

If Tiger is to claw his way back into this tournament and earn himself a weekend tee time, he will need his irons, in particular, to start cooperating. Playing conservatively and to the fat side of greens often, Woods employed a tactical approach around Pinehurst No. 2, but those tactics now require better approach shots if he is to see the second half of this championship.