Tiger Woods has picked up where he left off last week, rolling his putter perfectly on his opening nine holes at the PGA Championship. Woods missed almost nothing in the seven-shot win at Firestone last week, and he has had multiple tests on the green through his first seven holes at Oak Hill.
It started on the very first hole of his championship, and it looked like Woods might begin with a bogey for the second-straight major. After leaving an approach shot on the front of the green, he opted to putt but didn't have the speed correctly judged and blasted it 10 feet past. It was an early litmus test for the No. 1 player in the world, and Tiger made one of his classic par saves that have crushed the hopes of so many major fields over the past 15 years. It was just the first of what will (likely) be 72 holes, but it was a huge save and boost to avoid the negative start.
Woods made another moderate-length save on his second hole, No. 11 on Oak Hill's back side, but was then off and running in the red at Nos. 14 and 15. The back-to-back birdies brought him within a shot of the lead at 3-under, and it has been exactly what Tiger needed before getting to Oak Hill's two toughest holes -- the finish at No. 17 and 18.
The first birdie was the result of a dart fired to a foot from the cup on the par-5 14th. Tiger opted to take iron off the tee, leaving no doubt that he will play the mammoth 600-yarder as a three-shot hole. The layup paid off thanks to that stuck wedge for his first red number of the day. On the next, he put his approach shot nicely in the center of the putting surface, and then made a slight bender from about seven feet for his second birdie of the day. At No. 16, he mishit his approach, leaving a lengthy birdie lag try. Aside from that first putt, Woods has the speed down perfectly so far and he lagged it up for a tap-in par.
Woods has just eight putts through his first seven holes. Now comes the hardest stretch on the course, but Woods has the most crucial part of his game working early.