US PGA 2013: Tiger Woods makes a solid start at Oak Hill
Tiger Woods today made a solid start to his bid for a 15th major title in the US PGA Championship as the early starters looked to take advantage of a rain-softened Oak Hill.
Overnight rain had cleared in time to leave ideal scoring conditions and Woods reached the turn in two under par to lie two behind early pacesetters Robert Garrigus and David Hearn.
Fresh from winning his eighth WGC Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday by seven shots, Woods started on the back nine and holed from eight feet for par on the 10th after charging a long-range birdie attempt past the hole.
The world number one, who has gone a record 17 majors without a win since the 2008 US Open, then missed the green on the par-three 11th but chipped to within three feet of the flag to save par.
A creek which runs across the 13th fairway around 300 yards from the tee meant Woods hit an iron off the tee, despite the par five measuring 598 yards, but after another iron left him 150 yards from the green the 37-year-old fired a superb approach to within two feet of the flag to set up his first birdie of the day.
Woods also birdied the par-three 15th, holing from 10ft, and saved par from a greenside bunker on the 18th to be out in 33.
Garrigus was in the second group out at 7:25am and birdied the 11th, 12th and 13th before a bogey on the 18th, but hit back with further birdies on the second and fourth.
He was joined on four under by Canada's David Hearn, who had bogeyed the first hole but hit back with birdies at the second, fourth and sixth to be out in 33 before picking up further shots on the 10th and 11th.
England's Paul Casey and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat were both alongside Woods on two under with four holes to play, but former champion Padraig Harrington was four over par after 11.
Woods had an excellent chance for another birdie on the second after an excellent approach, but his putt from three feet never even touched the hole.
Casey made no such mistake on the seventh, the former Ryder Cup star's fifth birdie in seven holes taking him to three under and just one behind Hearn and former US Open champion Jim Furyk.
Casey parred the eighth and ninth to card a three-under 67 and made sure to take a look at his name on the leaderboard, one behind clubhouse leader Hearn.
"It's a while since my name has been up there," said the former world number three, who was down at 169th in the rankings after struggling for form and fitness before winning the Irish Open in June. "It felt good.
"You don't realise how much you miss something until it's gone and sitting on the sofa watching the big events of the last year and a half I have had lots of extra motivation to get back.
"It added another reason for getting out there and working hard and things like Justin (Rose) winning the US Open is good fuel for the fire."
Woods had dropped back to one under after hitting a poor tee shot on the par-five fourth - the first time he had used a driver - and eventually failing to get up and down from a greenside bunker.
Belfast Telegraph Digital