PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Even on a perfect day for scoring, Tiger Woods still couldn’t post an under-par round at Oak Hill.
That was largely because of his final hole of the day, the par-4 ninth. Blocked out by a tree down the right side, Woods tried to hit a big cut but his ball couldn’t escape the thick, juicy rough short of the green. His delicate pitch over the bunker came up short, in the sand, and the ensuing double bogey dropped him to a disappointing 1-over 71 at the 95th PGA Championship.
“I’m still right there,” Woods said afterward. “Right now I’m six back, and there’s a long way to go.”
On a day with soft greens, warm sun and no wind, the world No. 1 went out in 33 but struggled over his final nine holes – the front side – to post his fifth consecutive over-par round on the East Course, dating to the 2003 PGA. That year, he tied for 39th at 12 over par.
He hit only one driver Thursday – at the par-5 fourth, which he bogeyed – and found nine of the 14 fairways, though none of the misses was far off-line. A runaway winner last week at Firestone, Woods wasn’t nearly as sharp with his irons in Round 1, hitting only nine of 18 greens, and he took 27 putts.
Most critically, though, he missed a 4-foot birdie putt on the second hole that would have moved him to 3 under for the day. He said his group going on the clock a hole earlier caused him to hit that putt without giving it his full attention.
When asked whether he felt like he squandered a good opportunity during Round 1, Woods said, “A little bit. I played really well today. The round, realistically, could been under par easily.”