Struggling Woods, powers McIlroy for an early lead in the PGA Championship

Struggling Woods, powers McIlroy for an early lead in the PGA Championship

TULSA, OKLA (AP) — Tiger Woods made it sound as if Rory McIlroy played a type of golf he wasn’t familiar with on Thursday at the PGA Championship.

McIlroy seemed free and easy and only saw opportunity in Southern Hills. He blasted his driver over the trees and into the driveways, setting up some of his seven birds that carried him to 5-under-65 and advanced one shot early.

Woods picked his places and was never terribly fragile on his right leg as he said he felt worse than he did at the Masters last month. He collapsed mid-round and at the end, finishing with two ghosts for 74 and his worst start in the PGA since 2015.

That was exactly what McIlroy needed as he tried to finish nearly eight years without a major, and many of those opportunities are doomed to bad starts. This was his lowest start since 5 under 66 when he won the PGA Award in Valhalla in 2014, the last of his four majors.

“I think when your game feels like this, it’s just about getting out and sticking to your game plan, executing as much as possible, and sort of staying in your little world,” McIlroy said.

“I feel like this course, lets you be very aggressive if you want to be, so I hit quite a few drivers and took advantage of my height and finished with some nice iron play and some nice laying.”

The winner of Will Zalatoris and Pebble Beach Tom Hogg each opened with a 66-shot, while Matt Kochar and Abraham Unser were behind them.

McIlroy Woods was joined by the group by Jordan Spieth, who only lacks that major to complete his Grand Slam career and arrived in Tulsa with his game in good shape. But a series of missed Bird chances was followed by a series of mediocre blows, and Spieth never fully recovered. He had a late jumper and saved the tie on the last hole in ninth for 72.

Masters champion Scotty Scheffler was among those who played in the afternoon, as the heat index crawled toward 90°F (32.2°C).

The difference between McIlroy and Woods was evident at the start of the tour. On the 12th hole from 461 yards, Woods hit the iron from a tee that left him 178 yards. McIlroy bombarded the driver with a slight fade in the prevailing breeze, leaving him 86 yards.

Hit a lobe wedge to a birdie’s foot.

That was the start of McIlroy’s four straight birds, which included 6 to 25 feet for his longest bird of the day at number three and fourteen.

McIlroy made a jumper on two 5s of the green, hitting a 3-iron both times at 628 13th yards and 665 fifths yards. He hit another big motor in the hard split second by 4, leaving 7 iron to about 10 feet. I felt it was his reward.

Woods said, “You go out there and hit the driver a lot, and if you have a hot week, you have a hot week and you’re there. The game is so different. It’s more aggressive now, I know that. But I’ve been playing on my points. If I’m going to hit the ball hard.” On those two holes and putting the ball in the fairway, I would have been fine.”

He was talking about number 4, putting the iron down rough and hitting McIlroy a 327-yard drive up the hill and into the wind that left him wedge toward the green (it hit him with an 8-foot force); And the ninth hole, when Woods’ tee hit a tree and left his 4 iron to turn green.

The biggest concern was his leg. Woods said he’s having good and bad days with one of his legs badly injured in the car accident in February 2021, and that doesn’t sound great. Of the same concern was going Friday nine shots behind McIlroy and likely fighting to make the cut.

The warmth – not the furnace heat of the 2007 PGA in August – and moderate winds made perfect goals, although Southern Hills still had adequate defense.

Only 17 of the 78 players of the morning wave broke parity.

“I don’t think a top champion here has two numbers below the record, so you know the results are not going to go much further,” Hogg said. “It’s tough here. If you come out of the center in the rough here, it’s hard to control a ball. Golf around these greens because they can run off so fast. You just try to keep it simple.”

Another piece of Southern Hills history with seven former majors: Five champions have at least a share of the 18-hole lead.

Zander Shaveli was in the group at the age of 68, while Tony Finau was among those aged 69.

John Daly tried to revive some memories at the age of 56 with a beard longer than any bristly beard in the Southern Hills. He opened with a 67 in 2007 and was 2 through 10 holes until eventually fading out with a four bogey on his last five holes for 72.

2022-05-19 19:55:00

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