Tiger Woods made it sound like Rory McIlroy was playing a brand of golf he wasn’t familiar with at the PGA Championships.
McIlroy looked free and easy and only saw opportunities in the southern hills. He blasted his driver over a tree and into the fairway, placing a few of his seven birdies that led him to a 5-under 65 and an early shot.
Woods picked up his scars and his right foot was never terribly sharp. He said it felt worse than the Masters last month. He fell apart in the middle and at the end of his round, finishing with two bogeys for 74 and his worst start to the PGA since 2015.
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He was obviously disappointed with his game because the visionary 14-time main winner told the camera operator to give him a place while he was walking on the fairway.
“Would you mind giving me some breathing space?” Woods asked. “Please?”
As Woods walks away it becomes clear that the message is not being received because he once again asked, “Would you mind giving me some breathing space, please?”
Things get awkward when Woods asks for the third time, “Can you give me a place to breathe a little back? Give me a place to breathe a little back!”
While Woods was fighting, McIlroy looked fresh as he tried to finish without an eight-year streak major, many of those chances were ruined by a bad start. This was his lowest start since 6-under 66 when he won the PGA at Valhalla in 2014, finishing among his four majors.
“I think when your game feels like that, it’s just a matter of going there and really sticking to your game plan, doing what you can and being in your own little world,” McIlroy said.
McIlroy competed in the PGA Championship
“I like this course, if you want to be, it lets you be quite aggressive outside of the T, so I hit a lot of drivers there and took advantage of my length and finished it with some nice iron play and some nice. Placement. “
Will Galatoris and Pebble Beach winner Tom Hodge each opened with 66 runs, with Matt Kutcher and Abraham Anser one more shot behind.
McIlroy and Woods joined the Jordan Spieth Group, whose career simply lacked this major to complete the Grand Slam and reached Tulsa with his game in good form. But after a series of miss birdie chances, Putt was missed, and Spith never fully recovered. He was a late birdie and equalized in his final hole at No. 9 for a 72.
Masters champion Scott Scheffler was among those who played in the afternoon as the heat index dropped to 32 degrees.
The difference between McIlroy and Woods was clear early in the round. In the 12th hole of 461-yards, Woods hit an iron from T which kept him 178 yards. McIlroy hit the driver in the slightest fading with the prevailing wind, leaving him 86 yards.
He hit Lob Wage in one leg for Birdie.
For McIlroy it was the start of four straight birdies, including a 6-iron to 25 feet for the longest birdie of his day at 3 14th par-3.
McIlroy made two par 5s birdies from the Greenside Bunker, hitting the 628-yard 13th and the 665-yard fifth both with 3-iron. He made another big drive in solid par-4 seconds, about 10 feet from 7-iron. That one felt like a bonus for him.
“You go there and hit the driver a lot, and if you have a hot week, you have a hot week and you’re there,” Woods said. “The game is different. It’s much more aggressive now, and I know it. But I was playing in my place. If I had hit the ball hard in those two holes and kept the ball in the fairway, I would have been fine.”
He was talking about No. 4, where he put the iron in a rough place, and McIlroy hit a 327-yard drive up the hill and into the air which left him with a flip wedge toward the green (he missed an 8-foot put); And the ninth hole, when Woods’ T-shot hits a tree and throws him into a 4-iron green.
The biggest concern was his feet. Woods, from a leg seriously injured in a car accident in February 2021, says he has had good days and bad days, and it didn’t feel very good. Equally worrying is going into the nine shots behind McIlroy on Friday and is probably fighting to cut.
Warmth – not the heat of a furnace like PGA in August 2007 – and mild winds led to ideal scoring, although the Southern Hills still had considerable defense.
Only 17 of the 78 players have crossed the line since the morning wave.
“I don’t think any big champion here has ever been equal to double digits, so you know the score won’t go too far,” Hogge said. Rough here, it is difficult to control the golf ball around these greens because they can run very fast. You try to keep it simple. “
Another part of Southern Hills history, including seven previous majors: Five of the champions had at least one part of the 18-hole lead.
Xander Schauffele was in the group at 68, while Tony Finau was in the 69.
John Daly tried to revive some memories at the age of 56 and had a longer beard than any roughness in the Southern Hills. He opened with a 67 in 2007 and was on 10 holes below 2 until he finally faded with four bogeys in his last five holes for 72.
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