Tiger Woods Answers Doubters in Whistling Straits Opener
One week after the worst performance of his professional career led doubters and critics to tag him as yesterday's news, Woods came back in Thursday's opening round of the PGA Championship to suggest he's not done yet.
With a seven-foot birdie putt on his final hole, golf's beleaguered world No. 1-ranked player shot a 1-under 70 and is three shots back of early leaders Bubba Watson and Francesco Molinari.
"I played too good not to shoot under par, and it would have been very disappointing and frustrating to end up at even par as well as I played today," Woods said.
Woods arrived at Whistling Straits with a career-worst string of seven consecutive rounds without breaking par, but quickly suggested he still has game.
Beginning play off the 10th tee, Woods birdied three of his first four holes, before suffering his first bogey at the 15th. He saved par on the par-5 16th after a wayward drive, but fell back to even-par with bogeys at No. 2 and No. 7.
The finishing-hole birdie made the day a success.
"Well, to shoot something under par," Woods answered when asked his expectations for the day. "That was the goal. Got off to a quick start and all of a sudden, I felt like I could shoot something in the 60s. Didn't quite happen. Lost a few shots out there, but I made a nice birdie on 9 and finished under for the day."
Last week at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, Woods at times looked like a double-digit handicapper on the way to an 18-over total that finished 30 shots back of winner Hunter Mahan.
"Well, just one week," Woods said. "That's the way it goes. I mean, everyone has one bad week."
Actually, Woods has had a bunch of them that were far from good. But on Thursday he showed some of the old form, hitting eight of 14 fairways and 12 of 18 greens in regulation. He averaged 316 yards off the tee on driving holes.
Also, after a horrendous week on the greens at Firestone, Woods putted solidly, needing 28 attempts.
"I felt so much more comfortable over it," he said. "I got my lines back. I got everything lined up where I could release the blade, toe is moving again, which is great -- something I like to feel. It felt good."
It also provided a needed confidence boost.
"Certainly it does, because I was able to control my trajectory," Woods said. "When the wind blows like this, you can't just hit the ball in the air and all over the place. I felt like I was driving the ball and I was able to control it both ways."
So how can last week be so bad and this week start out so good?
"Welcome to golf," Woods said. "It is what it is. Guys shoot 59 and don't win. Fickle game."