August 13, 2015

Tiger’s putting sinks opening round of PGA Championship

Unable to capitalize on his opportunities, Tiger Woods shot a 3-over-par 75 on Thursday in the first round of the 97th PGA Championship at Whistling Straits Golf Course in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

“I hit it great today, but I made absolutely nothing,” said Woods, who needed 33 putts. “Probably one of the worst putting rounds I’ve had in a long time.”

Tiger made five bogeys and two birdies but missed four birdie attempts from 12 feet or less.

“I’ve had some good putting rounds, and I had bad ball-striking days on those days and then the flip side of it,” he said. “So, I’ve just got to get a combo right and then have it for three more days.”

Dustin Johnson posted the early first-round lead with a 66.

A four-time winner of the tournament, Woods was an early back-nine starter with Martin Kaymer and Keegan Bradley. Playing in overcast conditions with light wind blowing off Lake Michigan, Tiger parred the first four holes, just missing 10-foot birdie tries at the par-5 11th and par-3 12th.

Woods dropped a shot at the par-4 14th, where his approach backed up to the front of the green, and he three-putted from long range, missing a four-foot par putt. After a two-putt par at No. 15, Tiger made his first birdie of the championship at the par-5 16th, where he hit a short wedge shot to three feet.

At the tough par-3 17th, Woods found a greenside bunker — one of about 1,000 on the Pete Dye-designed course — then hit a nice explosion shot five feet from the cup and saved par. At the long and demanding par-5 18th, Tiger flushed a drive down the fairway but blocked his second shot into the right greenside bunker, the ball settling under the front lip. He did well to muscle his third shot 20 feet from the hole, and just missed his par putt to make the turn in 1-over 37.

Moving to the tougher front nine, Woods parred the first and second holes, then lost a stroke at the par-3 third, where he missed the green left, elected to putt and left his second shot eight feet short of the pin. Tiger two-putted for a bogey.

He made another at the par-4 fourth, finding the left rough off the tee, slashed his second shot well short of the green, then wedged to about 12 feet and missed his par-saving putt. Woods made a bounce-back birdie at the par-5 fifth, pouring in his longest sink of the day from 20 feet.

Tiger couldn’t sustain the positive momentum, making bogey at the par-4 sixth. Following a good drive, he pulled his second shot into the deep rough on the left and failed to get up and down.

Woods closed out the side with three straight pars. He was unable to convert a 12-foot birdie putt at the par-3 seventh, just missed a 10-foot birdie bid at the par-4 eighth and two-putted the par-4 ninth from about 40 feet.

Woods made only 59 feet of putts compared to 101 by Johnson.

“I just didn’t have the feel at all of the speed today,” he said.

Tiger hit 12 of 18 greens and seven of 14 fairways in regulation.

“The good news is I have complete control of the golf ball, even in these conditions,” said Woods.

Tiger begins second-round play Friday at 2:30 p.m. ET on the first tee with Kaymer and Bradley.