TULSA, Okla. — Tiger Woods returned to the site of his last PGA Championship win Thursday to mixed results with a rough close to his day that puts him into potential peril of missing the weekend cut. Woods, who won here at Southern Hills in 2007, had a strong start to his opening round before wobbling to the finish line as he bogeyed his last two to finish with a 4-over 74.
Given he was nine shots behind clubhouse leader Rory McIlroy at the time his round ended, Tiger will have to make quite a push on Friday to avoid going home early.
Woods opened his round with a birdie at the par-4 10th — precisely the way he started when he won at Southern Hills in 2007 — after a blistering drive off the tee that left him a wedge into the hole. He then stuck his approach within a few feet for a tap-in birdie to quickly establish momentum.
After another birdie at 14, though, Woods reeled off five bogeys in the next eight holes to fall well off the pace of McIlroy, with whom he was paired in Round 1. Rarely was the putter an asset from here out.
The short game — particularly on approach and on the greens — were ironically Woods’ saving grace that keyed his fast start. But as the day wore on, his impreciseness in that facet bit him continuously as he fought to stay in it. His bogey on No. 15 came after flying the green from a number he’d typically hit to within a few feet of the pin. Ditto for his approach at 18.
Again and again, he found himself either in bunkers or scrambling to save for par from just off the green, as he hit only seven of 18 greens in regulation.
Five of Woods’ seven bogeys came in his second nine (on the front after he opened the day on the back), which included bogeys on Nos. 1, 2 and 4. He shot himself into the mix early and then out of it late.
Woods had a similar trajectory at the Masters six weeks ago where he started quick and then sputtered, but at Augusta National — his first appearance playing competitively in more than a year — he comfortably made the weekend cut before fading on Saturday and Sunday. He’ll need to play much better in Round 2 on Friday to even be in the mix this weekend.