August 09, 2018

Tiger Ends A Scorching First Round At The PGA Championship At Even Par

ST. LOUIS – Tiger Woods dug a deep hole Thursday in the first round of the 100th PGA Championship at sweltering Bellerive Country Club.

He started bogey-double-bogey and seemed close to playing himself out of contention.

But there’s a reason he’s won 79 times on the PGA Tour, including 14 majors. In the opening round of the 1997 Masters, Woods shot 40 on the front nine, then rebounded with a 30. He wound winning by a record-breaking 12 strokes.

Woods was 21, but even at 42, and four back surgeries later, he’s still a fighter.

Thursday, Woods reminded playing partners Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas, along with thousands of appreciative fans, that there is no quit in his game. Coming off a lackluster 73-73 weekend at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, a place he has won eight times and can seemingly shoot under par in his sleep, many thought Woods was toast Thursday.

They were wrong.

No, he didn’t shoot 30. But Woods toured the last 16 holes in 3-under and shot 2-under 33 on the back nine. That helped him salvage an even-par 70, six strokes behind pacesetter Gary Woodland (64).

“I was trying to grind away at it,” said Woods, who is tied for 48th. “It kept me in the golf tournament. I could have easily gone the other way, but I hung in there and turned it around.”

An early back nine starter, Woods had to make a seven-foot putt on 10 to escape with a bogey. He wasn’t as fortunate at 11, coming up short of the green with his approach from 118 yards out of the rough and found water.

“I just stuck it in the ground,” he said.

Playing in the PGA for the first time since 2015 due to injury, Woods got one back at the par-4 12th, stuffing his approach two feet from the hole and converted a much-needed birdie. He made a great save at the par-4 15th after hitting trees with his first two shots, then another at the par-5 17th, getting up-and-down from a bunker.

Woods built back nine momentum by lofting a 7-iron from 185 yards to four feet at the par-4 18th and made the birdie putt. He turned in 2-over 37.

At the par-4 first, Woods kept it going with his second straight birdie. He followed with six consecutive pars, then added his fourth birdie at the par-5 eighth, crushing two shots before wedging to 10 feet. Woods two-putted from deep at the par-4 ninth to complete his comeback.

He hit nine of 14 fairways, 11 of 18 greens and used 27 putts.

Tiger is a finalist in the #MetLifeMatchUp where his shot was selected as one of the best recovery shots of the year. If Tiger wins, a donation of $750k will be donated to his charity, TGR Foundation. We ask that you help deserving scholars achieve a brighter future by voting for his shot. The contest runs from August 5th – 15th and you are able to vote up to 20 times per day. We thank you for your support!

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Woods elected not to play a Monday practice round, opting to rest and soak in an ice bath. Due to thunderstorms, he played only five holes Tuesday and the back nine Wednesday.

“The main thing at major championships it to make sure you have enough energy,” said Woods. “This is a long run. These are marathons. These are four long days. They’re slow rounds.”

The heat index climbed above 100 degrees.

Typically, Woods packs an extra shirt in his golf bag this time of year and usually changes prior to the round. Starting on 10, he couldn’t do that. After his tee shot on 12, he switched in a port-o-potty and played 3-under the rest of the way.

“As you know, I sweat a lot, and lose a bunch of weight,” said Woods. “I have the hardest time during summer maintaining my weight. No matter what I eat, no matter what I drink, I just can’t maintain weight. So this heat is one of the issues I have.”

Woods still has major work ahead. A four-time PGA winner, he’s hoping for a fast start Friday to move up the leaderboard. The good news is that he is only four shots out of third place.

Woods starts second-round play at 2:48 p.m. ET on the first tee with McIlroy and Thomas.

“These guys have been basically at the top of the world for the last four or five years,” Woods said. “I play with J.T. at home in practice rounds, but haven’t played with Rory in a very long time. It was fun to get out there and compete.”

Players wore yellow ribbons to show support for beloved Australian pro Jarrod Lyle, who died Wednesday after a 20-year battle with cancer. He was 36.

“It’s so sad to lose Jarrod after all he went through,” said Woods. “I played with him once at Firestone and he had an amazing spirit. We’re all family out here and we support each other.”

Many PGA Tour pros have contributed to a fund to help support Lyle’s wife, Briony, and their daughters Lusi (6) and Jemma (2). The TGR Foundation contributed $10,000.