Tiger Struggles on Day 1 at Southern Hills

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PGA ChampionshipTULSA, Okla. -- Tiger Woods kicked his putter, dropped his putter, even flipped it in the air and caught it after it made a 360-degree spin.
 
What he didn't do is make many tough putts with that putter, which is one reason he left Southern Hills on Thursday with a score that didn't represent the way he felt he played in the first round of the PGA Championship.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods opened with a 1-over 71 Thursday at Southern Hills. (Getty Images)
'I felt like I hit the ball better than my score indicates, which is good,' Woods said after his 1-over-par 71 left him six strokes behind Graeme Storm. 'That's a good sign heading into the next three days. I just need to clean up my round a little bit.'
 
If he cleans it up, he could be scary. What else can you say about a player who beat the field by eight strokes at a tough Bridgestone tournament last week?
 
And if he gives away a stroke here, a stroke there? That doesn't seem like too big a deal for a player like Woods. Well, unless you count the Masters. His bogey-bogey finish on Thursday didn't look too devastating at the time. Only he essentially repeated that on Saturday. When he lost to Zach Johnson by two, he was blaming those miscues more than anything that happened in the final round.
 
That, another second-place finish at the U.S. Open and a lackluster 12th place at the British has left Woods on the verge of going 0-for-the majors for the first time since 2004.
 
He has long acknowledged that no year, even if it includes four victories like this one, can be deemed 'great' if at least one of those wins doesn't come at a major.
 
Does that add more pressure here at 'Glory's Last Shot?'
 
'No,' he said. 'I've just got to go play, go out and grind like I always do.'
 
The first round in the stifling 95-degree heat was the ultimate definition of a grind.
 
It got off to a good enough start. Woods shook hands with Bob Tway and Rich Beem, jokingly told a rules official he only had 16 clubs in his bag, then teed off with a 6-iron on No. 10, the short dogleg right that simply begs to be birdied. Woods did to quickly get into red numbers.
 
He hit a wedge within 4 feet on No. 15 for another birdie, chipped in on No. 17 to save par, managed his way around the first eight holes at 3 under and briefly found himself in the lead.
 
Then the wind started swirling -- doing nothing to keep Woods from soaking through his white shirt, but keeping him guessing when it came to club selection.
 
He was well off on No. 18, hitting into the bunker short of the elevated green. Bogey there.
 
He went from under par to over on Nos. 7 and 8, hitting a shot into a front bunker on 7 -- similar to his shot on 18 -- then coming up short of the green with a 3-iron on the par-3 eighth.
 
'Good shots didn't always end up where we thought it would be,' Woods said.
 
Not all the shots were good.
 
Woods didn't even wait for his sand shot on 7 to land on the green, well in back of the hole, before he turned away in disgust. His pitch onto the eighth green was pedestrian and when he missed that putt, he stuck his hand out in dismay.
 
There was an eagle putt on No. 5 that cruelly stopped on the lip of the cup. Another eagle putt on 13 rimmed around the cup and kicked out.
 
It was one of those days where he got breaks in some spots, didn't in others. Had trouble with the wind, not so much with the heat.
 
'That's one of those reasons you run all those miles out there in the heat and stay in decent shape,' Woods said.
 
Puncturing that theory was the fact that John Daly, hardly a physical specimen, was winning the tournament at 3 under when Woods left the course for the day.
 
'When he gets going, as we all know, he can shoot in good numbers,' Woods said.
 
So can Tiger. And with three days to go, nobody is counting out the world's best player.
 
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