Tiger Woods fizzles on Thursday at PGA Championship

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — In the end on Thursday, it wasn’t Tiger Woods’ body that let him down in Round 1 at the PGA Championship, it was his putter.

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The golf legend finished his opening round with back-to-back three-putt bogeys to fall to the wrong side of par at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, signing for a one-over 72 on a day the brawny course seemed there for the taking.

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“I three-whipped the last two holes. Wasn’t very good. Bad speed on 8; whipped it past the hole,” he said after his round. “And 9, hit it short. Hit it off the heel of the putt and blocked the second one. So wasn’t very good on the last two holes.”

Woods’ speed on the rain-softened Valhalla greens looked off all day, as he struggled to get himself into tournament form after a layoff of more than a month since the Masters.

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“It took me probably three holes to get back into competitive flow again and get a feel for hitting the ball out there in competition,” Woods said. “Adrenaline, temperatures, green speeds; these are all things that normally I adjust to very quickly, and it just took me a few holes to get into it.”

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Woods made three birdies against four bogeys in his opening round at a major championship he has won four times, including here at Valhalla in his famous 2000 season. Aside from the slight limp that has become a familiar part of the legendary golfer’s gait since his 2021 car accident, Woods showed no signs of physical struggles on Thursday.

“I am getting stronger for sure,” he said. “Each day is a little bit different. 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.”

If the 15-time major champion is ever going to be relevant again on leaderboards at major championships he is going to have to find a way to prepare his game without his much discussed “reps”, and without the famously gruelling practice schedule that once separated him from his peers.

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“You have to just grind it out. It’s a marathon. Major championships are a long grind,” he said. “It’s just plotting along. It’s not a sprint. It’s just a grind.”

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Woods has played in just four of nine PGA Championships since 2015, withdrawing once and making the cut twice. He best finish over that timeframe was a runner-up finish in 2018.

“You can’t win a tournament unless you make the cut,” he said. “That’s the whole idea is get to the weekend so that you can participate and have a chance to win.”

Woods has some work to do on Friday in order to see the weekend at Valhalla.

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