On a Thursday morning when rounds in the mid-60s were available, Tiger Woods wrapped up his first 18 holes of the PGA Championship a disappointing 1-over, six shots back of clubhouse leader Jim Furyk. Woods started well, but he finished with a double bogey to card a 3-over 38 on his second nine.
It was a round of mixed results for Woods, who was solid with the putter on his first nine, but missed chances and dropped those three shots coming into the clubhouse on the back. Save for a misjudged speed on his first stroke of the day, he had his putter rolling perfectly through his first nine. He had a good measurement of the speed of the greens, which he was concerned about last week. His lag putts left him several tap-in pars, and he saved a couple with steady strokes from seven to 10 feet, including at his first hole of the day. Woods got to 2-under on the front when he canned a moderate-length birdie putt at No. 15. But that would be his last red number of the day.
The putter and his wedge covered up some mishit irons on his first nine, as Woods repeatedly missed greens in regulation. After he made the turn, that sloppiness caught up with him and his putter, specifically on No. 2, could not even things out. Woods missed a short birdie putt that hit the edge of the hole, a perfect and easy chance passed by on a day when the players need to post.
Like Firestone last week, there are only two par-5s at Oak Hill. Tiger has historically owned all the par-5s at the majors and it's his most constant path to victory. He played his first par-5, No. 13, conservatively, taking iron off the tee and making it a true three-shot hole. It paid off, and Woods stuck his third shot, a wedge, within a foot of the hole for his first birdie of the day. But on his second par-5, No. 4, Woods made a mess and finished with an ugly bogey. It was the first time he took driver off the tee, and he immediately sent it right off the fairway. That foreclosed the chance at getting home in two, which his playing partner Keegan Bradley accomplished. His next two shots weren't pretty, either, as his layup barely advanced out of the rough and his approach shot was left in a greenside bunker. He could not get up-and-down for a par he would have considered disappointing; the bogey undoubtedly left him fuming.
Even after that ugly bogey, Woods hung on and managed to keep it together despite several mishit and fat irons down the stretch. He consistently left his approach shots short or wide of the green.
It finally caught up with him on his final hole of the day. His drive just missed the fairway, trickling into the first level of Oak Hill's graduated rough. He was on the right side, forcing an aggressive pass at a cut shot up the hill to the ninth green.
But the attempt to bend it around and up to the green fell well short of the putting surface, as the ball nestled down into the thick rough in front. Tiger tried to hack it out and get up-and-down to save par, but instead his ball barely advanced into the bunker in front of the green.
Unlike his first nine holes, Woods could not get up-and-down from the sand to make bogey, settling for a disastrous double on his final hole of the day. The hole dropped him out of the red and, at the time, seven shots back of Furyk.
It certainly wasn't the same Tiger we saw last week at Firestone. Woods will be furious about the finish and missed opportunities on a course that was gettable, but there is still a move to be made to get back into it on Friday. The irons, however, must be more crisp, or Woods may be too far behind before we even reach the weekend in Rochester.