Late Stumble Costs Tiger Woods in Opening Round at PGA Championship

The four-time PGA champion had three-putt bogeys on his last two holes Thursday to finish 1 over par in what was otherwise an encouraging round.
Tiger Woods's putting cost him at the end of his first round at Valhalla.
Tiger Woods's putting cost him at the end of his first round at Valhalla. / Jeff Faughender-USA TODAY Sports

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — With potential poor weather looming on Friday and the need to go low during the opening round at Valhalla Golf Club, Tiger Woods was in position to finish under par during the first round of the PGA Championship.

Then he three-putted both the 8th and the 9th greens—his 17th and 18th holes—to finish with a disappointing 1-over 72 on a day that was otherwise encouraging.

Woods, playing for the first time since the Masters, showed some excellent scrambling ability as he struggled to hit fairways in the early going. But he managed to come to the par-3 8th hole at 1 under par after a birdie at the 7th, only to give it away.

“I three-whipped the last two holes. Wasn't very good,” Woods said. “Bad speed on 8; whipped it past the hole. And 9, hit it short. Hit it off the heel of the putter and blocked the second one. So wasn't very good on the last two holes.”

Woods actually made several good putts to save bogey at the 11th and to save par at the 12th while trying to find his form.

“It's just the competitive flow,” he said. “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. These are all things that normally I adjust to very quickly, and it just took me a few holes to get into it.”

Woods visited Valhalla last week for a practice round at the site where he won the 2000 PGA Championship. And he came to the course to work on his game Sunday before daily practice leading up to the tournament.

Valhalla is not as strenuous as Augusta National but it’s still quite hilly in spots and long, playing just under 7,600 yards for the opening round.

Woods made the cut for the 24th consecutive time to set a Masters record, including a strong 72 during the second round when many faltered. But the day included extra holes due to poor weather and Woods seemingly suffered with back issues during a third-round 82, his highest at Augusta National.

He finished 60th and last among those who made the cut, his worst result for 72 holes.

“Each day is a little bit different. Some days, it’s better than others,” Woods said of his physical woes. My body is just that way. Some days, it feels great, and other days, a bit of a struggle.

“I am getting stronger for sure. It's just that I just don't play a whole lot of competitive rounds. I haven't played since the Masters. So it's a little bit different than being at home and playing a flat Florida course.”

Woods is scheduled to play at 1:29 p.m. Friday when there is a good chance of rain and storms throughout the afternoon.


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Bob Harig

BOB HARIG

Bob Harig is a senior golf writer for Sports Illustrated. He has more than 25 years experience covering golf, including 15 at ESPN. Bob is a regular guest on Sirius XM PGA Tour Radio and has written two books, DRIVE: The Lasting Legacy of Tiger Woods and Tiger and Phil: Golf's Most Fascinating Rivalry. He graduated from Indiana University where he earned an Evans Scholarship, named in honor of the great amateur golfer Charles (Chick) Evans Jr. Bob, a former president of the Golf Writers Association of America, lives in Clearwater, Florida.