SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - World number one Tiger Woods got off to a shaky start on Saturday when he double-bogeyed the first hole in the third round of the U.S. Open.
World number one Woods fell to three strokes behind 36-hole leader Stuart Appleby of Australia, who shot 70 on Friday for three-under-par 139 and was just teeing off.
Woods drove the ball left into thick rough and left his second shot in rough short of the greenside bunker on the right. He pitched the ball through the green into rough, chipped on weakly and two-putted from 12 feet for six.
Playing partner Robert Karlsson of Sweden, who also began the cool, overcast day at Torrey Pines one shot off the pace, lost a stroke when he bogeyed the first after skulling his bunker shot through the green.
Woods, winner of 13 major titles, is trying to add to his haul despite coming off an eight-week layoff since having surgery on his left knee two days after the Masters.
A host of contenders were striving to get into position to win their first major title. Nine players thirsting for their maiden major began the day within three shots of the lead.
Besides Appleby, Sweden’s Karlsson and Carl Pettersson, Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez, Britons Lee Westwood and Luke Donald, Australian Robert Allenby and Americans Rocco Mediate and D.J. Trahan were all chasing their first major.
Three other players in close range had tasted major success including 1997 PGA champion Davis Love III, 2006 champion Geoff Ogilvy and twice U.S. Open winner Ernie Els of South Africa.
American Brandt Snedeker showed that low scores were attainable on Saturday at Torrey Pines, firing a three-under-par 68 that included four birdies and an eagle.
“We had a great start, it really wasn’t that windy early and the greens were perfect,” Snedeker told reporters.
“As the day wore one, the winds started to blow a little bit more and the greens were starting to bounce a little bit, which you expect on a weekend at a major.
“Now that I’m in, I hope that it blows like hell this afternoon and those greens get really crusty, make it real tough on them.”
Snedeker finished the day at four-over-par 217, seven shots behind Appleby, who led on three-under 139.
Editing by John Mehaffey