Woods 'still right there' after first-round 71
By Stan Awtrey, PGA.com Contributor
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The mojo from last week’s lopsided victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational didn’t carry over to the first round of the PGA Championship for Tiger Woods.
Woods, trying to win his first major championship since the 2008 U.S. Open, played under favorable conditions in the morning wave. Playing on greens softened by overnight rainfall, Woods shot a 1-over 71 and trailed early first-round leader Jim Furyk by six shots.
“I’m still right there,” Woods said. “We have got a long way to go.”
After five competitive rounds at Oak Hill, Woods has yet to post a score in red numbers. Despite a double bogey on his final hole, Woods wasn’t ready to beat himself up.
“I played really well today,” Woods said. “The round realistically could have been under par. … As I said, I feel like I played well today and made some nice key putts and the key is I left it in all the good spots, too. Left it right where I wanted to leave them, so I had some free runs at putts.”
The day began OK for Woods, who started on the back nine and picked up birdies at No. 13 and No. 15 and made the turn at 2-under 35.
He gave one shot back with a bogey at the par-5 fourth hole. He left his approach shot in the greenside bunker and nearly holed it from the sand. But his six-foot par putt grazed the right edge as it went past.
“I just hit a bad iron shot there at No. 4 and didn’t get up and down,” Woods said.
He made a nice sand save on the eighth hole to salvage par, but followed it with that double bogey on No. 9, his final hole.
Woods’ tee shot on his last hole found the rough, as did his second shot. His approach to the green wound up in the upper portion of a bunker. With the ball only inches from the lip, Woods wasn’t able to get the ball close with the explosion. His 12-footer for bogey caught the left edge of the hole and turned aside, leaving him with a double bogey.
“At No. 9 I was completely blocked out and tried to shape one over there and drew no lie at all from my third shot,” Woods said. “I was just trying to play 20 feet long and putt back and try to get bogey. I didn’t even get over the bunker. Came out of nowhere. Didn’t really have much from there, hit a beautiful putt, just lipped out.”
The group of Woods, Keegan Bradley and Davis Love was placed on the clock for four holes, starting at No. 1. Woods said they were conscious of the time, but he’s has grown used to it because of the large crowds that typically follow him around the course.
Being on the clock might have prevented Woods from taking more time on a birdie putt at No. 2.
“Stuffed it at No. 2, tricky little putt,” he said. “Probably should have taken a little longer, but we were on the clock and had to get going, so ended up blocking the putt anyways down the hill.”
The 71 marked the seventh time in 16 appearances in the PGA Championship that Woods has been over par in the first round. He came back to win in 2007 after opening with a 1-over 71 at Southern Hills thanks to a second-round 63.