'Sore' Tiger Woods struggles to opening-round 74 at PGA Championship
15-time major champion cards nine-hole scores of 35-39 at Southern Hills, site of 2007 PGA victory
May 19, 2022
By Staff , PGATOUR.COM
- May 19, 2022
- Tiger Woods is playing the first two rounds at Southern Hills alongside Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
TULSA, Okla. – Tiger Woods was expecting a long afternoon and evening grinding through his rigorous recovery processes after struggling to a 4-over 74 in the opening round of the PGA Championship at Southern Hills.
Despite starting hot with two birdies in his first five holes, the 82-time PGA TOUR winner was unable to maintain the form and appeared to be moving uneasy throughout the back half of the round.
In just his second start of the season following his recovery from serious leg fractures, Woods admitted to a similar discomfort he suffered in last month’s Masters. After an opening 1-under 71 at Augusta National, Woods fatigued over the final three rounds before finishing 47th. But the veteran claimed he was feeling much stronger ahead of his Southern Hills start.
The throngs of Oklahomans swelling the early fairways were inclined to believe Woods after two great birdies, but as the mercury rose, so too did his scores. By the turn, he was moving distinctly slower and was visibly labored over the final few holes and throughout his press interviews.
"It's a little sore … my leg is not feeling as good as I would like it to be. We'll start the recovery process and get after it tomorrow,” Woods admitted after turning at even-par 35 but returning in 4-over 39.
His 74 left the 15-time major champion nine shots adrift of playing partner Rory McIlroy, who paced the morning wave with a 5-under 65. The four-time PGA Championship winner was resigned to spending several hours rotating between physiotherapy and ice baths until his second round begins Friday afternoon.
“I just can't load it. Loading hurts, pressing off it hurts, and walking hurts, and twisting hurts,” Woods added about his leg that contains several pins after a car accident last year.
It wasn’t just the pain bothering the 46-year-old. Woods hit just seven greens in regulation during the round, as his usually crisp iron game deserted him. He lost over two shots to the field average around the greens, making just two of six sand saves while struggling for stability in the bunkers.
“I did not hit a lot of good iron shots. I drove it well, but my iron shots were not very good. I didn't get the ball very close,” Woods lamented. “I got off to a great start but didn't keep it going. I really didn't give myself any looks for birdie. I was struggling trying to get the ball on the green, and I missed quite a few iron shots both ways. It was a frustrating day.
“All the bunker shots sort of came out hot. The sand is a lot faster than I thought it would be … I feel like sometimes the sand … I'm guessing, and I guessed wrong.”
It was Woods’ highest PGA Championship score since a 75 to open the 2015 edition at Whistling Straits.
Here's a hole-by-hole look at Woods' entire round.
Hole 9 (par 4, 391 yards):
Selecting an iron off the tee, Woods attempted to play a vintage cut stinger, but he over-cut the shot into the right tree line. The ball hit a tree and caromed back into the center of the fairway, leaving an approach of 190 yards on his final hole of the day. Woods appeared in discomfort after hitting his tee shot, however.
Woods' approach was on a good line to the center of the green, but it flew the green and nestled into the back rough, leaving a slippery chip shot down the hill. He tried a soft flop shot but didn't catch all of it, the ball failing to reach the green. Facing a similar delicate chip on his fourth shot, the second time was the charm, as the ball trickled on a direct line to the cup before settling within 5 feet.
He saved bogey to record 4-over 74 in his first competitive round at Southern Hills since his 2007 PGA Championship victory.
4-over thru 18; 10/14 fairways hit; 7/18 greens in regulation
Hole 8 (par 3, 251 yards):
A par-3 with plenty of length, augmented by Thursday's wind direction, into the players' faces. Woods selcted a long iron and pushed it to the right of the green, the ball bouncing into a greenside bunker. After slightly losing his footing on the follow-through, he grimaced upon completing his swing.
Woods seemingly caught too much ball on his bunker shot; the ball raced past the flag with plenty of speed, leaving a lengthy par putt of 41 feet.
Woods' par try was left all the way, rolling 3 feet past the hole. He made his bogey comebacker, falling to 3-over for the day amidst increasingly firm, windy conditions in Oklahoma.
3-over thru 17; 9/13 fairways hit; 7/17 greens in regulation
Hole 7 (par 4, 489 yards):
Woods took driver off the tee and quickly appeared concerned upon impact; the ball sailed well into the right rough. The ball traveled 301 yards, leaving a lengthy approach from 194 yards, the ball sitting down.
With thick trees guarding his line to the hole, Woods deliberated his options before hitting a low cut that chased into the front greenside bunker. Interestingly, Woods was nearly hit by a ball on the adjacent hole just before stepping into his approach shot; he flinched but was fortunately missed by a few feet.
Woods' bunker blast landed on the front edge of the green and released with good speed, settling just 4 feet short and right of the hole. He surveyed the putt from multiple angles, then drained it right in the heart for the par-save.
2-over thru 16; 9/13 fairways hit; 7/16 greens in regulation
Hole 6 (par 3, 214 yards):
After a lengthy wait on the tee box, Woods pulled a mid-iron and took an aggressive line to a middle-left hole location. The ball drew slightly and landed on the left fringe, leaving a manageable birdie look from 21 feet.
Woods pulled putter from the fringe, but the ball had a slight bit of trouble working through the grain; it settled 3 feet short of the hole. The par-saver was no trouble, though. Right in the heart for his second consecutive par.
2-over thru 15; 9/12 fairways hit; 7/15 greens in regulation
Hole 5 (par 5, 656 yards):
On the longest hole at Southern Hills, Woods pulled driver and split the fairway with a controlled cut. He anxiously eyed the ball as it landed and bounced in the fairway, perilously flirting with a cross bunker, but it settled a few feet short of the sand. After a drive of 340 yards, he was still left with 330 yards to the hole.
After laying up to 138 yards, Woods struck a wedge on a conservative line to the center of the green, leaving a mid-length birdie putt from below the hole.
Woods' birdie putt from 18 feet had perfect pace, but it hung out just right of the hole. He tapped in to stay at 2-over, his first par since No. 17.
2-over thru 14; 9/12 fairways hit; 7/14 greens in regulation
Hole 4 (par 4, 377 yards):
Woods pulled iron off the tee on the short par-4 and produced a low stinger; it started on a line toward the left rough and couldn't quite cut back to the fairway.
From just off the left side of the fairway, Woods pulled a short iron and hoisted the ball well up in the air. He didn't produce quite enough juice, though, as the ball landed in a greenside bunker short-left.
As the wind gusts continued to pick up, Woods could not provide ample spin on his bunker shot; the ball landed just short of the hole and released well past, tricking off the green, off the fringe and ultimately settling down in the rough.
Woods played a sublime, lofted pitch on his fourth; the ball landed softly and released just 3 feet past the hole. He rolled it in but dropped a shot, his fourth bogey in five holes.
2-over thru 13; 8/11 fairways hit; 6/13 greens in regulation
Hole 3 (par 4, 472 yards):
Woods wasted no time in pulling driver and hitting a controlled cut, splitting the middle of the fairway. The ball traversed 308 yards, leaving an approach of 146 yards.
On one of Southern Hills' easiest holes statistically, Woods took advantage with a short-iron approach. The ball tracked toward the flag the entire way, bouncing just past the hole and spinning back to within 5 feet.
Facing his first birdie try inside 15 feet since No. 14, Woods thrilled the fans by pouring it right in the center. He waved to the crowd that approached 10 fans deep around No. 3 green, righting the ship after a string of three consecutive bogeys.
1-over thru 12; 8/10 fairways hit; 6/12 greens in regulation
Hole 2 (par 4, 500 yards):
Woods shook off any negative vibes with a confident swing off the tee, pulling driver once again and sending a controlled cut down the middle of the fairway.
Facing a mid-iron approach from 203 yards, Woods' ball got caught up in the wind and perhaps faded more than his liking, the ball settling on the fringe, 62 feet short-right of the center-cut hole location. It marked Woods' fourth consecutive missed green.
Woods took putter from the fringe and made an aggressive stroke, the ball tracking toward the cup but missing on the right side and racing 10 feet past the hole.
Needing the par-save to avoid his third consecutive bogey, Woods could not get the putt to drop. He tapped in for bogey, falling to 2-over on the tournament.
2-over thru 11; 7/9 fairways hit; 5/11 greens in regulation
Hole 1 (par 4, 468 yards):
From a perched tee box, Woods pulled driver and produced a high cut. As he anxiously looked on, the ball cut across the fairway, settling in the right rough with significant tree trouble.
With a tree prohibiting a direct line to the green, Woods was cautious with his second shot; he wedged out into the fairway short-left of the green, leaving a pitch shot from 35 yards.
Facing a right-to-left breaking pitch shot, Woods judged the proper line, but the ball skidded past the hole in increasingly firm conditions at Southern Hills.
On his left-to-right breaking par putt from 16 feet, Woods didn't quite play enough break; the ball slid past on the right side. He tapped in for his third bogey in five holes, falling over-par for the first time this week.
1-over thru 10; 6/8 fairways hit; 5/10 greens in regulation
Hole 18 (par 4, 491 yards):
On one of Southern Hills' most demanding holes, Woods pierced a sharp cut driver through the Oklahoma air, the ball comfortably finding the center of the fairway. His tee shot traveled 323 yards into what broadcasters described as a "divot-free zone."
"Position A, big-time, for Tiger," remarked an ESPN+ commentator.
From just 162 yards, though, Woods was immediately displeased with his approach shot. The ball sailed long and left, finding the back bunker and leaving a slippery downhill sand shot.
With the green sloping away, Woods took a line toward the left fringe. The ball did not catch as much slope as he may have hoped, as the ball was caught up in the fringe, leaving a lengthy par-saving try.
From 19 feet, Woods took putter from the fringe. The ball tracked all the way but grazed the right edge; Woods reacted with a sigh of dismay. He tapped in for bogey to make the turn at even-par.
Even-par thru 9; 6/7 fairways hit; 5/9 greens in regulation
Hole 17 (par 4, 371 yards):
On the short par 4, Woods took iron off the tee and hit his trademark stinger, the ball chasing down the left side of the fairway and leaving a wedge approach into the green.
From 113 yards, Woods tugged a wedge slightly, the ball settling on the left fringe but just 16 feet from the hole. He took putter on his birdie try from the fringe; the ball creeped toward the cup but wouldn't drop, settling an inch short-left of the hole. Woods slumped his shoulders in disbelief but tapped in for a stress-free par.
1-under thru 8; 5/6 fairways hit; 5/8 greens in regulation
Hole 16 (par 4, 527 yards):
Woods pulled driver off the tee on the lengthy par 4 and didn't hesitate; he produced a tight cut that never left the center of the fairway, bounding and settling a few yards short of a cross bunker.
After a drive of 320 yards, Woods still faced an approach shot from 213 yards. With the hole situated on the right-center of the green, Woods flighted his approach to the center of the green. The ball released and settled hole-high, leaving a birdie putt of 21 feet.
Woods pulled his birdie try slightly left of the hole; with plenty of pace, the ball rolled 2 feet past. He had no trouble with the comebacker, making a good par on a demanding hole.
1-under thru 7; 4/5 fairways hit; 5/7 greens in regulation
Hole 15 (par 4, 417 yards):
Woods took a conservative approach with an iron off the tee, but he blocked it into the right rough; the ball traveled 239 yards, leaving 173 yards to the hole.
With the ball sitting down in the rough, Woods took an aggressive line to a front-left hole location, but the ball failed to carry the front bunker.
Faced with a greenside bunker shot for the second time in three holes -- this time, from just 22 feet -- Woods found himself short-sided on this occasion. He couldn't get the ball down quickly enough; it landed past the hole and released to approximately 25 feet.
Woods' par effort tracked toward the cup but grazed the right edge. He tapped in for his first bogey of the day.
1-under thru 6; 3/4 fairways hit; 4/6 greens in regulation
Hole 14 (par 3, 230 yards):
Upon arriving at the tee on the lengthy par-3, Woods and his playing partners faced a backup on the tee box. Woods took the opportunity to enjoy a breakfast sandwich and drink, while sharing a few laughs with Spieth and McIlroy.
With the hole location hugging the left side of the green, Woods took a line toward the center of the green and produced a slight draw. The ball landed on the front edge and bounded onto the green, settling hole-high and leaving a makeable birdie putt from 15 feet.
After studying his birdie try, Woods produced a smooth stroke. The ball had perfect line and pace, and it dropped in the center of the cup. Birdie to pull within one of the current leaders, and a hearty wave to the rabid fans.
2-under thru 5; 3/3 fairways hit; 4/5 greens in regulation
Hole 13 (par 5, 632 yards):
Woods pulled driver off the tee for the first time Thursday, confidently striping it down the left side of the fairway. After a 335-yard drive, he had a chance to give the green a go from 270 yards, but he opted to take the conservative route and lay up with a short iron.
Woods had just 85 yards for his approach into the par-5, but he caught a wedge slightly fat; the ball settled in the front-right bunker.
The 15-time major champion regrouped mentally to hit a sublime bunker shot to within 3 feet. He saved par to remain in red figures on the day.
1-under thru 4; 3/3 fairways hit; 3/4 greens in regulation
Hole 12 (par 4, 456 yards):
Woods didn't hesitate in pulling a long iron off the tee, and he hit his trademark stinger with a soft cut, the ball comfortably settling in the right side of the fairway. The ball reached an apex of just 46 feet, with ESPN+ commentator Scott Verplank remarking, "It's amazing he can still hit that shot ... he's still got that stinger, and it's a great shot.
"He's been hitting it for 25 years ... it's a shot that's helped define his career," Verplank added.
After a 273-yard tee shot, Woods was left with 188 yards to the hole, well back of playing partners Spieth and McIlroy. His mid-iron approach was tracking the whole way; the ball landed just long and right of the hole, releasing to approximately 20 feet.
Woods' well-struck birdie putt appeared to find its line, but it carried a touch too much speed to break back left at the end, the ball settling 2 feet past the hole. He safely tapped in for par.
1-under thru 3; 2/2 fairways hit; 3/3 greens in regulation
Hole 11 (par 3, 173 yards):
With the hole location tucked on the front-left portion of the green, trouble lurking, Woods took a conservative line with a short iron. He aimed right-center of the green and produced a soft draw, the ball landing in the center of the green and settling approximately 30 feet from the hole. No harm, no foul.
Woods displayed perfect speed on his birdie try, the ball tailing just left and settling a foot from the hole. He tapped in for par to remain in red figures on his opening round in Oklahoma.
1-under thru 2; 1/1 fairways hit; 2/2 greens in regulation
Hole 10 (par 4, 376 yards):
Woods pulled a fairway metal from his bag and flushed it to begin the 2022 PGA Championship, a smooth swing producing a high, soft cut that split the middle of the fairway.
After a 339-yard drive from a perched tee box, Woods had just 95 yards to the hole. He went high with a wedge, the ball carrying the front bunkers, landing softly and releasing to within 4 feet of the hole.
Woods took his time on the putt, and the ball found the right center of the hole. Birdie to begin the week at Southern Hills.
1-under thru 1; 1/1 fairways hit; 1/1 greens in regulation