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Angry Woods admits first round 'wasn't very good'

By Phil Casey

Former world number one Tiger Woods neatly summed up his opening round of the 96th US PGA Championship in four words on Thursday.

"It wasn't very good," Woods said after a three-over-par 74 at Valhalla which featured four bogeys and just one birdie courtesy of chipping in on the 16th.

All eyes had been on Woods after he declared himself pain free and said he was targeting a 15th major title this week, despite getting in just nine holes of practice on Wednesday after withdrawing from the final round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational with a back injury.

But the 38-year-old found himself nine shots off the clubhouse lead shared by Lee Westwood and Kevin Chappell, as well as being outscored by playing partners Padraig Harrington (73) and Phil Mickelson (69).

Woods threw a club at his bag after a dropped shot on the 11th and slammed another into the ground following a poor tee shot on the 14th, while he also swore at himself after badly hooked drives on the first and second.

"A lot of bad shots and I never got a putt to the hole," added the 14-time Major winner, who is playing in just his fourth event since undergoing back surgery on March 31.

"I hit them all on my lines, just for some reason I thought they were going to be a little bit quicker and I didn't make the adjustment well enough.

"I had plenty of looks to turn my round around and then post something even par, even under par.

"My swing was dialled in on that range out there. Unfortunately, I didn't carry it to the golf course."

Woods said on Wednesday that his latest back injury was not related to the pinched nerve which required surgery, revealing that the sacrum bone had been dislodged on the second hole on Sunday but that his physio "had popped it back in".

"It's a little bit stiff, but that's about it," he added. "I'm going to go get treatment and make sure this thing is nice and loose for tomorrow.

"I need to get to under par by the end of tomorrow, or end of my second round.

"If we get storms, it could be Saturday. If I get under par for two rounds, that will be right in the ball game."

Mickelson had looked on course to shoot a similar score to Woods after almost hitting his opening tee out of bounds and playing the first eight holes in two over par, but the left-hander rallied with three birdies in his last six holes.

Asked about Woods' performance, Mickelson said: "I thought he played with a lot of heart. It's not easy when your game isn't where you want it, and you're hitting shots that you don't normally hit, to fight hard.

"I thought the second hole was a great example, when he hooked it into the water and a lot of guys would just not play as focused, not put it all in the next shot. He grinded out a bogey and made a great up and down."

Belfast Telegraph


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