TULSA, Okla. – His right leg clearly bothering him as he finished the round, Tiger Woods saw a strong start at Southern Hills on Thursday negated by five bogeys over his final nine holes to shoot an opening-round 74 at the PGA Championship.
Playing alongside top-10 players Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, Woods acknowledged that he was in pain afterward.
“My leg is not feeling as good as I would like it to be,’’ said Woods, who is playing in his second tournament this year following a 47th-place finish at the Masters. “We’ll start the recovery process and get after it tomorrow.’’
Woods is nine shots behind McIlroy, who leads after a 5-under-par 65, and is tied for 99th.
A surprise competitor at the Masters following a serious car crash in February of 2021 that saw him hospitalized for weeks and unable to walk unaided for months, Woods showed plenty of promise that week but also plenty of rust.
He took some time to recover afterward, and then began the process of ramping up again. But at various times, Woods’ limp due to the injuries suffered to his lower right leg were pronounced.
While he hit 10 if 14 fairways, Woods hit just 7 of 18 greens and got up and down just 4 of 11 times. He struggled on bunker shots and had difficulty controlling pitch shots as well. And missing greens led to those issues as well.
“I did not hit a lot of good iron shots,’’ he said. “I drove it well, but my iron shots were not very good. I didn't get the ball very close. I got off to a great start and 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 was well at the start for Woods, who hit a 340-yard tee shot at the par-4 10th and knocked his wedge from 95 yards to 3 feet for an opening-hole birdie. He added another birdie at the par-3 14th to get to 2 under par.
But Woods appeared to hit it off the hosel with a 2-iron at the short par-4 15th, turning an easy hole into a struggle. He had a shot to the green, but found the front bunker and made his first bogey.
He made three straight bogeys starting at the 18th through the second, in each case failing to get up and down from around the green. After a birdie at the third with a nice approach, he bogeyed the fourth when he again hit a poor chip, and then could not get up and down from a bunker at the eighth. His tee shot at the ninth hit a tree, leaving him 190 yards back. From there, he flew the green, hit a flop shot that came up short, and needed to make a 4-footer for bogey.
The 74 left him outside of the top 100 while play continued. The cut on Friday will be the top 70 and ties.
Asked how the pain in his leg impacts the swing, Woods said:
“I just can’t load it. Loading hurts, pressing off it hurts, and walking cuts, and twisting hurts. It’s just golf.’’
Then he added, smiling: “If I don’t play (golf), if I don’t do that, then I’m all right.’’
More PGA Championship Coverage from Morning Read:
> Round 1 Scores, Updates from Southern Hills
> Rory McIlroy Sprints Out of Gate with 65, Showing Confidence of Old
> UPS Dumps Lee Westwood on Heels of LIV Golf Waiver Request
> Hot Temperature, a Hot Start for Rory and a Frigid Brooks Koepka
> Jordan Spieth Plans to Get Aggressive After Conservative Opening Round
> Masters Champion Scottie Scheffler Scuffles to 71, But Could Have Been Worse
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