Forgettable first round for Woods

ByBob Harig ESPN logo
Thursday, August 7, 2014

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- On a day ripe for scoring highlighted by warm temperatures and little wind, Tiger Woods showed that his game is not to the standard necessary to compete in a major championship.

At a place where he made history in 2000 by winning his third consecutive major, Woods displayed little of that magic on Thursday during the opening round of the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club.

Woods made just one birdie and did that from off the green, holing a pitch shot at No. 16, his seventh hole of the day. He added four bogeys and was unable to convert the realistic chances he had, settling for a 3-over-par 74 that left him 9 shots back of leaders Lee Westwood and Kevin Chappell.

"It wasn't very good," said Woods, who was outside of the top 100 when he finished and in need of a decent score Friday to make the 36-hole cut. "A lot of bad shots, and I never got a putt to the hole. I hit them all on my lines, just for some reason I thought they were going to be a little quicker, and I didn't make the adjustment well enough.

"I had plenty of looks to turn my round around."

Woods played just one practice round on Wednesday, and that was nine holes before only putting on the back nine, after he withdrew from the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday with back spasms.

The injury and subsequent rehab put Woods' appearance here in doubt, and he acknowledged that his back was "a little stiff" but added that he was experiencing no issues related to his March 31 back surgery.

This is Woods' fourth tournament since his return, and he has shot just two rounds in the 60s. Although his game is clearly unrefined, he wouldn't use it as an excuse.

"It is what it is," he said. "I have the same opportunity as everybody else, and I just didn't get it done."

Woods hit eight of 14 fairways and 10 of 18 greens but had found just five of the first 10 greens. He made bogeys at the 11th and 14th holes -- both par-3s -- then birdied the 16th. After making the turn, Woods hit poor drives at the first and second holes, both leading to bogeys.

On No. 2, Woods' drive came to rest in a hazard, and he needed to hole a 15-foot putt for bogey.

Woods played with former PGA champions Phil Mickelson and Padraig Harrington, both of whom recognized Woods' struggles.

"He looked like a man who needs to play some golf," said Harrington, who shot a 73. "Raw ... like he needs more rounds. If he had holed a few putts, he could have shot a decent score. Certainly he didn't get much of a return."

Mickelson, who was 2 over through eight holes and rebounded to shoot a 69, also sensed Woods' struggles.

"I thought he played with a lot of heart," Mickelson said. "It's not easy when your game isn't where you want it and you're hitting shots that you don't normally hit to fight hard.

"I thought the second hole [their 11th] was a great example, when he hooked it into the water. A lot of guys would just not play as focused, and not put it all in the next shot. He grinded out a bogey. He made a great up-and-down, made a 15-footer for bogey. I just thought it showed a lot of heart."

That likely will come as little consolation to Woods, who isn't looking for any moral victories. He failed to birdie any of the three par-5s, struggled off the tee again -- missing left and right -- and needed 30 putts.

This was Woods' 10th round since returning in June at the Quicken Loans National -- not including Sunday, when he withdrew -- and he has eight scores over par, five of which are 3 over par or worse.

For all of 2014, Woods has played just 24 rounds, with 14 over par and eight that are 3 over or worse.

Asked whether his swing is where he wants it, Woods said: "On the range it was, for sure. My swing was dialed in on that range out there. Unfortunately, I didn't carry it to the golf course."

Woods said he wouldn't practice after the round, instead opting for treatment so his back "will be good and loose" for Friday.

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