Tiger Woods falters late, cards 1-over 72 at PGA Championship

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Tiger Woods was 1 under after 16 holes of his opening round at the PGA Championship on Thursday, a good start in his attempt to stick around for the weekend at Valhalla Golf Club.

But Woods, a four-time PGA Championship winner, carded bogeys with three-putts on each of his last two holes for a disappointing 1-over 72.

Woods was tied for 85th after the first round, 10 strokes behind leader Xander Schauffele, who posted a 9-under 62 to match the lowest round in a major championship for the second time in his career.

Woods said he “three-whipped” his last two holes, the par-3 eighth and par-4 ninth. On the eighth, he pulled his tee shot and his ball stopped 39 feet left of the hole. He blasted his putt about 10 feet past the cup, then his next one stayed low. A bogey dropped him back to even par.

On the ninth, Woods hit his drive to the left side of the fairway. He had 144 yards left to the hole and hit his approach shot to 34 feet. He three-putted from there, too.

“Wasn’t very good,” said Woods, who was playing in a tournament for the first time since the final round of the Masters on April 14. “Bad speed on eight; whipped it past the hole. And nine, hit it short. Hit it off the heel of the putt and blocked the second one. So [it] wasn’t very good on the last two holes.”

The disappointing finish came after one of the highlights of Woods’ round — a birdie on the par-5 seventh. His approach shot over water landed in a greenside bunker, and he chipped out to 13 ½ feet and made the birdie putt to move to 1 under.

Woods started his round on No. 10 and made the turn at 1-over 37. He had bogeys on Nos. 11 and 15 but made an 18-foot birdie putt on No. 13.

The 15-time major champion had a great par save on the par-4 12th after his tee shot landed in the deep rough and had to punch out. He made a 15-footer to save par. He also had to punch out of the rough on the 15th.

Woods hit nine of 14 fairways and 13 of 18 greens in the round.

“The rough is dense,” Woods said. “It’s just very dense. With the rain we got and just the moisture on it, I know they’ve topped it off, but it’s just really lush. You can get lies where it sits up, you can get a 3-wood on it. A couple times, I had to pitch out sideways. You don’t have to worry about that if you drive it in the fairway, and I just need to do a better job of that.”

Of course, the challenge for Woods is putting together four solid rounds — if he makes the cut. Since he returned to competitive golf following a car accident in February 2021, Woods has played 72 holes in two majors, finishing 47th at the 2022 Masters and 60th at the Masters in April.

“I am getting stronger for sure,” Woods said. “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, 48, said it took him a few holes to get the adrenaline going Thursday.

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

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