Tiger Woods faced an uphill struggle to claim back-to-back major titles after failing to heed his own advice in the opening round of the 101st US PGA Championship at Bethpage State Park.
“No double bogeys. Take your medicine, hack it into the fairway, wedge it on to the green and try to make a putt,” was how Woods had summed up his approach to the fearsome Black Course, where he led from start to finish to win the 2002 US Open.
But that advice immediately proved impossible to follow as Woods ran up two double bogeys in the space of eight holes in a front nine of 38 that left him six shots behind playing partner and defending champion Brooks Koepka.
Off and running …— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) 16 May 2019
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Starting on the back nine alongside Koepka and Open champion Francesco Molinari, Woods missed the fairway on the 502-yard par-four 10th and could only lay up around 80 yards short of the green.
From there the Masters champion flew his approach over the green and, after chipping to four feet, missed the bogey putt after Koepka had holed from 40 feet for an unlikely birdie.
Woods steadied the ship with a string of pars before holing from 15 feet for birdie on the 15th, only to three-putt the par-three 17th for another double bogey after his tee shot had plugged in a greenside bunker.
Koepka, who was joint second behind Woods at Augusta National, had picked up further birdies on the 14th and 18th to ominously join a seven-strong leading group which included England’s Tommy Fleetwood and Matt Wallace.
WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational R3
Wallace, who earlier this week apologised for his petulant behaviour on the 72nd hole of the British Masters on Sunday – after banging his putter into the green in frustration – had started on the front nine and birdied four of the first six holes before a bogey on the eighth.
Fleetwood, who was the tournament host at Hillside, had played the tougher back nine in one under before picking up shots on the first and third.
Jim Barnes, who won the inaugural event in 1916 and a second title in 1919 following a two-year hiatus due to World War I, is the only Englishman to have lifted the Wanamaker Trophy.