Tiger Woods lines up a putt on the 14th hole during the first round of the PGA Championship on Thursday in Tulsa, Okla. Eric Gay/Associated Press

TULSA, Okla. — By the time Tiger Woods walked toward the fifth tee box Thursday, the hot start to his return to the PGA Championship had turned cold, and what was quickly becoming a steamy day at Southern Hills had also become an agonizing grind.

Two early birdies that had him in the red seemed distant memories, replaced by mishits off the tee, wayward irons into the green, fliers out of bunkers and not enough made putts to save his round. Woods wound up with a 4-over 74 on the same course where he won the 2009 PGA, leaving him weary of the cut line heading into Friday’s second round.

“I got off to a great start and didn’t keep it going,” said Woods, who was often wincing down the stretch on a right leg that was nearly amputated 15 months ago. “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.”

Painful one, too.

Woods was optimistic that after making it around hilly Augusta National during the Masters, the right leg that was so severely injured in a car crash would fare well on the reasonably flat, compact layout in Tulsa. But whether he was fidgeting with a compression wrap on it during his second nine, or using his driver almost like cane as he walked down the fairways, it quickly became evident that the leg was bothering him.

After knocking his tee shot into the greenside bunker on his penultimate hole, Woods grimaced as he walked gingerly back to his bag. He then leaned heavily on it while watching playing partner Rory McIlroy hit his approach shot.


“My leg is not feeling as good as I would like it to be,” acknowledged Woods, who missed last year’s tournament at Kiawah Island while recovering. “I just can’t load it. Loading hurts, pressing off it hurts and walking hurts, and twisting hurts.”

At one point, Woods had five bogeys during an eight-hole stretch, and he added two more on his final two holes. The result was his worst opening around at the PGA since shooting 75 in 2015, when he missed the cut.

“We’ll start the recovery process,” Woods said, “and get after it tomorrow.”

CHALLENGE AT No. 18: If someone is heading to the 18th in need of a birdie in the final round on Sunday – well, good luck.

The 490-yard par-4 finishing hole at Southern Hills, playing uphill and often into the wind, proved to be overwhelmingly the most difficult hole on the course through Thursday’s first round. There were just three birdies from the first 108 players, while 48 had made bogey, three made double and one fared even worse than that.

Will Zalatoris was among those who made bogey, one of just two during his sterling round of 4-under 66.


“On top of that, it’s the toughest green on the golf course,” he said of the 18th. “You want to be able to go into that hole on Sunday – whoever is going to win this tournament – you want to have a cushion. That hole is just a beating no matter what.”

JOHN DALY: Another wild ride for John Daly has ended. The 56-year-old Daly was the first to tee off at Southern Hills and he made it look like a blast from the past with two quick birdies. His name was on the leaderboard all morning. He was 2 under after a 7-foot birdie on the 10th hole.

And then he ran out of gas at the end. Daly finished with four bogeys over his last five holes. Three bogeys were from the bunker. He three-putted the 18th. He finished with a 74.

It still beats the rounds of 85-86 he shot last year at Kiawah Island. Whether Daly agreed is uncertain. He declined requests for an interview.

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