Fifteen-time Major-winning Tiger Woods produced his lowest opening PGA Championship round in 11-years thanks to a two-under-par 68 at the US PGA Championship in San Francisco.
Woods grabbed five birdies playing in the company of fellow PGA winners Rory McIlroy (70) and current World No. 1 Justin Thomas (71).
Woods was teeing-up at TPC Harding Park where he has enjoyed both ‘individual’ and ‘team’ success previously and his round was his lowest first day effort in the PGA Championship since posting a 67 on day one of the 2009 PGA Championship at Hazeltine.
“Well, I felt that the practice sessions have been very good,” said Woods.
“They have been very intense, and I felt like I got the flow of the round early at Memorial, after taking five months off, and got off to a quick start there, and there’s no reason why I can’t do the same here.
“I was able to do that. I made a nice putt at 10 after Rory gave me a nice little look there. I felt like I kept the round going most of the day, and I let a couple go here and there, but for the better part of the day, it was a very solid round.”
And helping Woods find the bottom of the cup with five birdies was a decision to pack a new putter into his ‘Monster Energy’ bag.
“I’ve been messing around with this putter for the better part of over a year,” he said.
“Rob (McNamara) and I have been talking about — you know, it’s difficult for me to bend over at times, and so practicing putting, I don’t spend the hours I used to. It wasn’t unusual for me to spend four, five, six hours putting, per day. I certainly can’t log that with my back being fused.
“Most of the guys on the Champions Tour have gone to longer putters as they have gotten older, because it’s easier to bend over, or not bend over. And so this putter is just a little bit longer and I’ve been able to spend a little bit more time putting.
“It’s also very similar to my sand wedge. I putt with my sand wedge all the time at home. I like the feel in my right hand. I like blading putts and hitting the ball in the equator. Not unusual for me to be messing around with something a bit longer.
“I just felt like I was able to spend the time putting again and log in time, and felt like I was able to get ready for this event.”
And there was that unique moment for all players this week with Woods being introduced on the first tee as the reigning Masters champion but, and in a first in the history of the majors, with no spectators in attendance.
“Well, that’s our new norm,” said Woods.
“I experienced that a few weeks ago at Memorial and most of the guys have experienced those who started out playing the Tour a little bit earlier than I did.
“It’s just the way it is. This is our norm that’s going to be for a while. I don’t know how long it’s going to be. The energy is different. You’re not going to have as many distractions out there, as well. There’s really no one moving around. You don’t hear the crowd noises.
“It’s just different. That’s probably the only way to say it; this is what we’re going to have to get used to in the near future and for probably for a while.”