Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024

PGA Championship: Tiger Woods is rusty and Xander Schauffele shoots a record round

By admin May21,2024


LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - MAY 16: Tiger Woods of the United States plays a shot from a bunker on the 17th hole during the first round of the 2024 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club on May 16, 2024 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Tiger Woods plays a shot from a bunker on the 17th hole during the first round of the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club on Thursday in Louisville, Ky. (Andy Lyons / Getty Images)

Tiger Woods must greatly improve for any chance of making the cut at the PGA Championship on an undemanding Valhalla Golf Club course highlighted Thursday by a record round from Xander Schauffele.

Woods bogeyed the last two holes and was tied for 85th after shooting a first-round 72. This is Woods’ first tournament since the Masters the second week of April, and the rust showed.

“Wasn’t very good,” he said. “Bad speed on eight, whipped it past the hole. And on nine, hit it short. Hit it off the heel of the putter and blocked the second one. So wasn’t very good on the last two holes.” And he doesn’t sound optimistic.

Woods won the PGA Championship at this same Louisville, Ky., course a half a lifetime ago in 2000, when he joined Ben Hogan as the only players to win three major titles in one year by defeating Bob May in a three-hole playoff.

Those heroics are a distant memory. In a pairing with Adam Scott and Keegan Bradley on Thursday starting with the back nine, the 48-year-old Woods bogeyed the par-three 11th after his second shot landed in a bunker. He pulled back to even par by making an 18-foot putt on No. 13.

Read more: Tiger Woods shoots a 77 in final round of Masters

His best hole might have come just before struggling on his last two holes. His approach shot on the par-five seventh landed in a greenside bunker, but he chipped to 14 feet and made the birdie putt to move to one under.

Then came three putts on Nos. 8 and 9. Woods’ 50-foot lag putt on the par-three eighth slipped 10 feet past the hole, and his 30-foot birdie putt on the ninth came up 6 feet short.

Read more: Scottie Scheffler lives up to his No. 1 ranking by winning his second Masters title

Since returning to the tour after recovering from a February 2021 car crash on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Woods had played in only two majors, both at the Masters. He finished 47th in 2022 and 60th in April.

He acknowledged after the round that his long history of injuries has taken a toll. In addition to injuries sustained in the crash, he’s had several back surgeries as well as Achilles tendon, knee, neck and shoulder issues.

“Each day is a little bit different,” Woods said. “Some days, it’s better than others. It’s just the way it is. My body is just that way. Some days, it feels great, and other days, a bit of a struggle.”

Schauffele is the early leader with a nine-under 62 that included nine birdies and no bogeys, a tournament record that also tied the lowest round at a major.

“I feel there’s spurts, moments in time where you feel like you can control the ball really well,” he said. “You’re seeing the greens really well, you’re chipping really well. I’d say this is very close to [the best], if not it.”

Rory McIlroy, coming off a resounding victory at the Wells Fargo Championship, birdied three of his last four holes for a 66, one shot behind a trio tied for second at 65: former Pepperdine standout Sahith Theegala, Tony Finau and Mark Hubbard.

Read more: Golf champ Rory McIlroy files for divorce after seven years of marriage

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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