The PGA Championship

Tiger's tangled mess of a first round

Frustated Woods can't find fairway en route to profanity-laced 4-over 74

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) -- Tiger Woods stood and stared in disbelief. All day long, he was missing fairways with his tee shots and now he couldn't hit the green with a wedge in his hands.

Woods tossed the club at his bag and walked toward a nearby bridge on his 16th hole of the day, cursing loudly all the way. The frustrations of a year's worth of mangled majors seemed ready to erupt all at once.

"Calm down Eldrick," a fan shouted, using Woods' given name.

If Woods heard, he wasn't listening. On the next hole, he slammed his 3-wood into the ground in anger after hitting it into the gnarly Oak Hill rough one more time.

Woods had come into this PGA Championship hoping to salvage one major championship in a year of major disappointments. But the wayward tee shots that have plagued him all year cost him once again.

By the time his drive wound up buried in ankle deep rough on his final hole, Woods had had enough. He stood over the ball, cursing again, this time for being unable to find the short grass off the tee.

For good measure, he finished the round by missing a 2-footer for a 4-over 74 that left Woods eight shots behind after one round and positively fuming.

He also wasn't talking, stalking off the course and into the locker room. Woods stayed only long enough to offer some brief thoughts to a PGA official before making a hasty retreat from his troubles.

Among those thoughts?

"It's a little bit frustrating," Woods told the official.

Frustrating probably wasn't the word Woods used in private after a day spent hacking the ball out of fairway rough and then trying to get up and down from 100 or so yards to salvage pars.

Indeed, frustrating certainly isn't strong enough to describe Woods' inability to find a way to score in the major championships he once dominated.

Shocking might be better.

Who could have imagined when Woods was completing his Grand Slam in 2001 and then won the first two majors last year that he would be now be faltering in his sixth straight major championship?

Consider this statistic: When Woods won three of the four majors in 2000 he was a combined 53-under-par in the four events. This year he's 10-over-par -- and still has three rounds to go in the PGA Championship. That's assuming he makes it that far.

The player who hasn't missed a cut in 108 PGA Tour events could be staring right when he tees it up Friday afternoon on a course that could be playing faster and tougher by then.

Then again, Woods assured the same PGA official, "tomorrow is a new day."

Thursday was supposed to be a new day, too, a day when Woods set aside his problems from the last five majors and made a statement that he was back.

His old driver was back in his bag for the sake of accuracy, but he didn't find many fairways with it. When he turned to his usually trusty 3-wood, it let him down, too.

In all, Woods hit only five of 14 fairways and made only one birdie, thanks to a sloping 20-footer he actually hit away from the hole on No. 13. But he promptly followed that up with consecutive bogeys on the next two holes and never got under par again.

As bad as it was, it could have been worse. Woods was actually the best player in a threesome that included a 75 by 2001 PGA champion David Toms and an 82 by defending champion Rich Beem.

If it weren't for Woods' putter, he might have joined Beem. In a stretch of four holes, he made par putts from 6, 10, 10 and 20 feet to save pars. For the day, he took only 27 putts.

The 74 wasn't much condolence, though. Woods has now failed to break 70 in the first round of his last six majors, a streak that coincides with his major losing streak.

Perhaps more ominously, Woods has never won a tournament where he shot par or worse in the opening round.

That didn't stop the large crowds from trying to catch a glimpse of him, though many seemed to move away as Woods struggled and Phil Mickelson was posting his 66 a few groups in front.

But unless something turns around -- and quickly -- they'll have to come out early on the weekend to see Woods in this major.

Assuming he's there at all.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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