The first dealt with his right leg, the other his scorecard.
After grabbing an early share of the lead with two birdies on his first five holes, the 15-time major champion and four-time Wanamaker Trophy winner labored home with seven bogeys and just one birdie to turn in a card that read 4-over-par 74.
And he literally limped home after aggravating an injury in his right leg. He certainly looked far worse than he did when he played his first practice round on Sunday and his second on Monday.
“My leg is not feeling as good as I would like it to be,” he said. “We’ll start the recovery process and get after it tomorrow.”
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Tiger Woods grimaces as he plays a shot on the ninth hole during Thursday’s first round of the PGA Championship.
Woods is playing for just the second time in the last 18 months; the fourth time if you count the two 36-hole PNC Championships he played alongside son, Charlie. And he’s 15 months removed from his horrific single-car accident north of Los Angeles that nearly took his life and brought amputation of his right leg into question. Pins, rods and needles were inserted to stabilize the leg, ankle and foot; many remain inside that lower portion of his body.
In Woods’ only other start this year, he ran out of gas and limped home in the Masters six weeks ago, where he tied for 47th.
Woods also was annoyed with his play at Southern Hills, where he won his 13th major and first as a father in the 2007 PGA Championship. While he hit 10 of 14 fairways in regulation, he hit just seven of 18 greens.
“Well, I did not hit a lot of good iron shots. I drove it well, but my iron shots were not very good. I didn’t get the ball very close,” Woods said. “I got off to a great start and didn’t keep it going. I really didn’t give myself any looks for birdie. I was struggling trying to get the ball on the green, and I missed quite a few iron shots both ways. It was a frustrating day.”
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If Woods was given more time when he met reporters following his round, he likely would have conceded his short game let him down, too. He had 85 yards for his third shot into the par-5 13th but blew it over into a back bunker (he saved par). On the par-4 first, he three-putted from just off the green from 60 feet. On the par-4 fourth his bunker shot didn’t hold the green. On the par-4 ninth, he undercut his first flop shot from behind the green and had to hit another mini-flop shot.
His immediate concern once he left the grounds was to try and get his right leg right (or at least better). If he can’t it will be a long second round.
“Well, I just can’t load it,” Woods said when asked what his numerous injuries in his right leg, ankle and foot mean to his swing. “Loading hurts, pressing off it hurts, and walking hurts, and twisting hurts.
“It’s just golf. If I don’t do that, then I’m all right.”