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Tiger Woods opens PGA Championship in 1-over 72

8 Min Read


Tiger Woods readies to begin Thursday's opening round at Valhalla. (Ben Jared/PGA TOUR)

Tiger Woods readies to begin Thursday's opening round at Valhalla. (Ben Jared/PGA TOUR)

    Written by Staff @PGATOUR

    Tiger Woods knows he's competitively rusty, compared to the vast majority of this week's PGA Championship field. That doesn't mean he expects any less of himself.

    Woods opened the 106th PGA Championship in 1-over 72, a mixed bag of a morning in Louisville, Kentucky. He battled through a series of wayward tee shots to remain around par through the majority of his opening round at Valhalla Golf Club, and he caught fire midway through his second nine to move into red figures. Woods, though, closed with back-to-back three-putt bogeys that will leave a sour taste in his mouth overnight. He's 10 strokes off the pace of Xander Schauffele, who carded 9-under 62 to begin the week, the PGA Championship's single-round record low score.

    The day resembled his first round at last month's Masters (1-over 73), with an up-and-down cadence but an end result that should fall near the projected cut line. Woods followed with a second-round 72 at the Masters to make the cut, setting a tournament record with his 24th straight made cut. He'll look Friday to play the weekend for a second straight major championship, aiming for a faster start than he accomplished Thursday (where he was lucky to escape his first three holes in just 1 over, before working into more of a flow).

    "It took me probably three holes to get back into competitive flow again and get a feel for hitting the ball out there in competition, adrenaline, temperatures, green speeds," Woods said after his opening round. "These are all things that normally I adjust to very quickly, and it just took me a few holes to get into it.

    "I am getting stronger for sure ... Each day is a little bit different. Some days, it's better than others. It's just the way it is. My body is just that way. Some days, it feels great, and other days, a bit of a struggle."

    Woods' history echoes throughout the grounds at Valhalla, as his 2000 PGA Championship victory here (outlasting Bob May in a three-hole playoff) marked the third leg of the "Tiger Slam," which he completed at the 2001 Masters. Woods won the 2000 U.S. Open and The Open by a combined 23 shots, before the wily veteran May gave him all he could handle for 75 holes at Valhalla. It might be a tall task to expect Woods to hoist another Wanamaker Trophy this weekend, but making the cut for a second straight major championship is certainly in the realm.

    "I think that I've made a few cuts in a row, what was it, 140-some odd," Woods said Thursday. "So you have to just grind it out. It's a marathon. Major championships are a long grind. It's just plotting along. It's not a sprint. It's just a grind.

    "You can't win a tournament unless you make the cut. That's the whole idea is get to the weekend so that you can participate and have a chance to win. I've been on the cut number and have won tournaments, or I've been ahead and leading tournaments and I've won tournaments. But you have to get to the weekend in order to win a golf tournament."

    Read below for hole-by-hole updates from Woods' opening round at the 106th PGA Championship.

    1:25 p.m.: It's a disappointing finish for Woods, who closes his round with a second straight three-putt bogey.

    He splits the fairway off the tee at the dogleg-right, 411-yard par 4, leaving just 144 yards to the hole, but plays a substandard approach to 34 feet, leaves his birdie putt 6 feet short and cannot convert to save par. It means a 1-over 72 for Woods, featuring some good and some bad. He'll still be within striking distance of the cut line at Valhalla, but he's 10 strokes back of early leader Xander Schauffele, who set a PGA Championship single-round scoring record with a 9-under 62.

    1:10 p.m.: Woods plays to the front-left portion of the 169-yard, par-3 eighth, but his birdie putt releases well past the hole to leave a lengthy par attempt from 10 feet. He can't convert. Just like that, after reaching red numbers for the first time on the previous hole, he's back to level par for the day. One hole remains.

    12:55 p.m.: After a solid two-putt par from 54 feet at the staunch par-4 sixth, Woods solves the double-fairway, par-5 seventh. He plays to the left fairway off the tee, strikes a 238-yard second shot into the right greenside bunker (a conservative line with flanking down the left side) and gets up-and-down with a birdie from 13 feet.

    For the first time today, Woods is under par. It's a testament to his resilience after a shaky start, and his body appears to be holding up respectably. He's 1 under for the opening round with two holes to play. He's eight off the pace of leader Xander Schauffele, but the 15-time major champion is tied for 17th on the leaderboard, comfortably inside the projected cut line.

    12:15 p.m.: Woods is finding a groove as the round progresses, but he can't quite get on a birdie run. He strikes a 69-yard wedge to 14 feet on the short par-4 fourth but cannot convert the birdie. He stuffs a 156-yard 8-iron to 9 feet on the scenic par-4 fifth, the approach shot descending down the hill, but cannot convert the birdie. He settles for back-to-back stress-free pars, remaining at even-par on his round with four holes to play. He's eight back of Xander Schauffele, who is threatening the PGA Championship's all-time single-round low of 63 (which has been recorded on 18 occasions).

    11:45 a.m.: Tiger is a tactician. He stripes his tee shot on the 194-yard, par-3 third to 5 feet and converts for birdie, returning to even-par on the day. It's his second birdie of the round, accompanying his 3 on the limestone-waterfall par-4 13th. Despite some loose tee shots at times, he's making it work with his trademark grit that has led to a record-tying 82 PGA TOUR titles.

    11:30 a.m.: Woods is struggling to find a groove off the tee, but he's making it work anyway. He tugs his tee shot left at the par-4 first hole, his 10th, but muscles out an approach onto the green to leave a 19-foot birdie attempt; he two-putts for par. He over-cuts his tee shot on the long par-4 second, catching a greenside bunker; he plays his second shot to the fairway short-right of the green. He plays a deft 35-yard pitch to 5 feet and saves a crafty par. He's 1 over through 11 holes.

    10:55 a.m.: After two big shots at the 571-yard, par-5 18th, Woods faces a straightforward eagle pitch from a collection area just behind the green. He can't take advantage though, as the 56-foot pitch settles 14 feet short of the hole, and he two-putts for a slightly disappointing par. Woods turns in 1-over 37, six strokes behind leader Xander Schauffele, who turns in 5-under 31 from the same nine.

    10:35 a.m.: Woods makes back-to-back pars on Nos. 16 and 17, and they come in contrasting styles. His par at the brawny 503-yard, par-4 16th is routine -- fairway, green, two-putt from 24 feet (although the second putt is a 7-foot comebacker after a slick birdie try). He fights harder on the par-4 17th, missing his tee shot into the right rough and his second shot into the left greenside bunker but then getting up-and-down with a 7-footer. He's 1 over through eight holes, headed to the par-5 18th.

    10:04 a.m.: Woods falls victim to Valhalla's thick rough on the par-4 15th, as he misses his tee shot into the left rough and is forced to lay up, similar to on No. 12. This time he can't save par, as his 68-yard third shot lands 33 feet past the hole and he two-putts for bogey. Woods returns over par for the day, now 1 over through six.

    9:40 a.m.: Woods plays a smart shot to the middle of the green on the 256-yard, par-3 14th, and he comfortably two-putts from 54 feet. Woods stays even-par through five holes, as he has demonstrated good pace on the greens early Thursday in the Bluegrass State.

    9:20 a.m.: Woods rolls the momentum from an unlikely par at the 12th into his first birdie of the week. On the iconic limestone-waterfall par-4 13th, he splits the fairway and plays a deft 92-yard wedge to 18 feet. He doesn't miss a beat on the uphill birdie try; it finds the center of the cup. Woods returns to even-par on the day.

    9:02 a.m.: Woods is a 15-time major champion for many reasons; among them, he has a propensity to grind out unexpected pars to keep a round on the tracks. The par-4 12th hole is proof positive; after missing the fairway left into thick rough and being forced to lay up, Woods gets up and down from 180 yards, draining a 15-footer to save par from near the green's back edge. He delivers a sheepish salute to the appreciative fans, staying 1 over through three holes.

    8:45 a.m.: Woods gets scrappy on the 211-yard, par-3 11th, as his tee shot misses the green long-right and he chips back over the green into a bunker. He saves bogey with a 6-footer, though, limiting the damage. He's 1 over through two to begin the day.

    8:32 a.m.: Woods plays a fairway metal to the rough some 50 yards short of the green on his opening hole, the par-5 10th, leaving an awkward angle for his third shot, short-sided. He plays a masterful high flop shot for his third, 12 feet past the hole, and two-putts for an opening par. The 82-time TOUR winner is off and running at Valhalla.

    8:15 a.m.: Woods takes driver for his first swing, beginning on the par-5 10th, and uncorks a high fade that splits the fairway. The crowd roars. Woods is sporting a salmon shirt with his new Sun Day Red branding.

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