Woods fights hard for opening 70 at PGA Championship
Considers it a moral victory after terrible start
August 09, 2018
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
Tiger Woods comments after Round 1 of the PGA Championship
ST. LOUIS – Tiger Woods was 3 over par through two holes at the 100th PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club on Thursday, but battled back to shoot an even-par 70.
He was five behind the early first-round leader, Rickie Fowler, and feeling good about turning a potentially terrible day into a not-so-bad one.
“It kept me in the golf tournament,” said Woods, who started on the back nine. “I could have easily gone the other way, being 3 over through two. A lot of things could happen. Not a lot of them were positive, but I hung in there and turned it around.”
After being sidelined for years by various ailments, including four back surgeries, Woods is in the midst of a comeback season that has seen plenty of highs. At the Valspar Championship in just his fourth start this season, he shot four under-par rounds for the first time since THE NORTHERN TRUST in 2013. At The Open Championship at Carnoustie last month, he briefly seized the lead before struggling on the back nine and ultimately finishing T6.
The top-10 finish nudged him into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking and got him into last week’s World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone South, where he’d won eight times. He got into contention but shot 73-73 on the weekend to finish T31.
Woods was not at his best again at Bellerive on Thursday. Of his 118-yard approach over water at the 11th hole, he said, “I stuck it in the ground,” coming up some 12 yards short on the way to a double-bogey 6. Still, he minimized the damage by making three birdies and no bogeys over his last 10 holes. He hit 9 of 14 fairways and 11 of 18 greens, and took 27 putts.
“This is a long run,” he said, pleased to still be within five of the early first-round leader, Rickie Fowler. “These are marathons. These are four long days. They're slow rounds.”
Woods had the same score as playing partner Rory McIlroy (70) and was one behind the third member of the group, Justin Thomas (69), the defending PGA champion who is coming off a victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational last weekend. Being grouped with two stars from the next wave had Woods in a reflective mind, and he recounted a story about playing with Jack Nicklaus at the 2000 PGA at Valhalla, which he had told at the PGA Champions Dinner here earlier this week.
“Jack at Valhalla, 18 years ago, that was his last PGA, and he was telling me the story that he played with Gene Sarazen in his last PGA,” Woods said. “It's interesting what this game of golf can do, how we can basically last for so many different generations.
“… The reason I was telling the story is because J.T. invited me to speak a little on behalf of himself and PGA of America, and J.T. was 7-years old when we were at Valhalla, and he was in the clubhouse when I made that putt on 18. So, kind of trying to tie in Gene Sarazen, Jack, and little J.T. there, and now he's PGA champion for the last year, 17 years later. So, it's pretty neat.”
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