PITTSFORD -- Tiger Woods took lots of momentum to his second nine Thursday in the opening round of the 95th PGA Championship at the Oak Hill Country Club. Then the tournament favorite promptly gave it away.
Woods missed reasonable birdie putts on his first three holes of his back nine (Oak Hill's front) and finished with a 1-over par 71. Woods had turned in 2-under and was within a shot of the leaders early in his morning round. But he finished the round six shots behind Jim Furyk, who tore up the normally treacherous East Course layout with a 5-under 65.
Only 2.2 percent of the golfers who finished 72 holes had posted under-par scores in the seven previous majors at Oak Hill. But an overnight rain and faint winds made the course vulnerable to low scores in the opening round. In the morning, 21 players finished under par, which is 70 at Oak Hill.
But Woods, who has been seeking a 15th major title since his U.S. Open win in 2008, couldn't capitalize. He bogeyed the par-5 fourth hole, the easiest birdie hole on the course. He was still under par until he double bogeyed his final hole of the day, the 452-yard, par-4 ninth.
Still, Woods was pleased with his round, which has become typical of the world's No. 1-ranked player when he performs below expectations.
"I played really well today," Woods said. "I made some nice key putts and the key is I left it in all the good spots, too."
Well, he didn't hit it so well from those spots. Woods was short on many of his approaches. He hit irons off several tees, evidently because he doesn't trust his longer clubs. He didn't look much like the Tiger of old, or for that matter, the Tiger of a week ago at the Bridgestone.
He looked like just another player, and the leader board reflects it. There are quite a few obscure names in front of Woods on the board.
"I'm still right there," Woods insisted. "I mean, as of right now, I'm only six back and we have a long way to go."
Yeah, and he'd better get it going soon.