Tiger Woods to Field: 'Head On Home, I Got This'

↵Tiger Woods completed his first round of the 91st PGA Championship at Hazeltine with a five-under 67, and after 18 holes in the season’s last major, the world’s number one is already the leader in the clubhouse. Before Phil Mickelson and some of the other top players in the world had a chance to even tee off in the first round, the tournament was ostensibly over. ↵

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↵ ↵

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↵Woods carded a sterling, bogey free round – only the third time he finished the first round of a major without a blemish – leading today’s playing partner Padraig Harrington (-4), less than a week after overtaking Harrington to win the Bridgestone Invitational. ↵

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↵The issue for the rest of the field isn’t that Woods is in contention in a major tournament, it’s that he’s in the lead in a major tournament this early. And yes, someone in the afternoon session could post a score lower than Woods’ 67, so we could wake up tomorrow and Tiger may not actually be in the lead. But he’s rarely this close to the top after day one. And while his lavender Nike shirt turned a deep purple as the round went on (the man perspires in heart-shaped patterns!), it’s the rest of the field that should be sweating. ↵

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↵Woods habitually plays it safe in the first round of a major before he unleashes his greatest-of-all-time fury on the course, the field and the history books. In his 14 previous major championships, Woods has only carded first-round scores in the 60s seven times, and just four times has his first round been his best round. ↵

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↵So how does Tiger think Tiger did? ↵

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↵⇥“I felt very comfortable with what we were doing today,” Woods told TNT after his round. “I hit the ball well pretty much all day and I hit some good putts even though I didn’t make a lot of putts. I felt this really could have been a low number today.” ↵
↵In other words, the field better watch out. ↵

↵This is the first time Woods has ever played three-straight tournaments leading into a major, but he’s shown no signs of being tired after back-to-back victories heading into this week. CBS analyst Peter Kostis thinks that playing three-straight weeks has really helped Woods. ↵

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↵⇥“I think he’s benefiting from having played three weeks in a row now,” Kostis said on the TNT telecast. “I think earlier in the year, perhaps physically he wasn’t able to play that many tournaments in a row. He’s coming in here competitively sharp after his last two wins.” ↵
↵Competitively sharp. Completely dominant. You say potato, I say ‘potahto.’ ↵

↵Look, the tournament isn’t exactly over. Woods still has 54 holes to play, and some of the world’s best have just gotten on the course. With the conditions quite favorable, especially when compared the torrential downpours that nearly ruined the last major championship on US soil, someone in the field could go low. These guys are good, after all. But after hitting 12 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens, Woods is on top of his game, and still thinks he can do better. ↵

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↵As good as these guys may be, Tiger’s just better. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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