Tiger Woods in contention after solid opening round at PGA Championship

Tiger Woods’ opening round at the PGA Championship wasn’t perfect.

The 82-time PGA Tour winner has played just a handful of times so far this season, after all.

He is, however, right in the mix after posting a 2-under 68 in the early wave on Thursday at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco — which marked his lowest opening round in a major championship since 2012.

“I felt that practice sessions have been very good,” Woods said. “They have been very intense … I was able to [get off to a quick start]. I made a nice putt at 10 after Rory [McIlroy] 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.”

Woods’ quick start

Woods didn’t waste much time getting going on Thursday. 

After hitting his first two shots into the rough on the par-5 10th to start his round — Tiger started on the back nine — Woods stuck a stellar chip right just feet from the pin to set up a birdie right out of the gate. He backed it up two holes later, too, sinking a 33-footer on No. 13 to jump to 2-under.

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Woods made bogey on No. 14, however, after an errant drive and an approach shot that landed him inside a bunker to drop back to 1-under. 

A strong stretch on the back

Woods made bogey on No. 2, dropping him back to 1-under after carding five-straight pars. That is when he finally made his move.

Woods made three birdies in four holes — including back-to-back birdies on Nos. 4 and 5 — to pull within just two of the lead.

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He had an opportunity to pick up a fourth on No. 8, especially after a nice bunker shot set up a makeable par on the par-3. Woods’ putt, however, was just off the mark, dropping him back. His birdie putt on the ninth was just short, too, ending his round at 2-under par. He hit five of his final six greens of the day.

“This golf course, you have to hit the ball in the fairway,” Woods said. “You get a ball in the rough, into the grain, there’s no chance you can get the ball to the green. I felt like I did a decent job of doing that, and the golf course is only going to get more difficult as the week goes on.”

Woods is now just three back of Jason Day, who surged ahead to grab the solo lead early with three birdies on his back nine.

Woods has played just once since play resumed after the COVID-19 hiatus. He made his first appearance on the PGA Tour in nearly five months at the Memorial Tournament in July, though finished T40 and failed to shoot better than 71 the entire week. He picked up his 82nd career win earlier this season at the Zozo Championship — tying Sam Snead for the most in Tour history — though that was back in October. 

Woods will kick off his second round just before 5 p.m. ET on Friday.

Tiger Woods watches his tee shot on the 14th hole during the first round of the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020, in San Francisco. (AP/Jeff Chiu)

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