The shot was awful. One that the Tiger Woods of a decade ago rarely made.
On his second hole during the first round of the PGA Championship on Thursday, Woods so badly chunked an approach shot from the rough that it came up 15 yards short of the green.
“Stuck in the ground,” Woods would later explain.
Splash went his ball into the water, and just like that, Woods made double bogey. After an opening bogey, he was three over par with 16 more holes to play at Bellerive Country Club.
A murmur of disappointment went through the gallery. It looked like Woods, winless in his last 27 majors, was out of the tournament before 9 a.m. local time on the first day.
Woods stubbornly didn’t let that happen.
He produced two tremendous par saves, birdied his ninth and 10th holes, and made only one bogey over the last 16 holes to score an even par 70 that put him tied for 48th, six shots off the pace of leader Gary Woodland.
“I could have easily gone the other way, being three over through two,” Woods said. “A lot of things could happen — not a lot of them were positive. But I hung in there and turned it around.”
After starting on the 10th tee, Woods trailed the early leaders by six shots after eight holes.
He hit a great iron shot on No. 12 to within two feet for birdie, and recorded two par saves — at 15 (two hooks into the trees) and 17 (a woefully short approach into a bunker).
Then came two straight birdies. Woods eschewed his driver for a fairway wood at the 18th, and the layup to 183 yards must have been a good number, because he hit his seven-iron approach to within four feet.
At No. 1, Woods had 147 yards to the flagstick, put his approach to 10 feet and made the putt to scramble back to one over.
He made a final birdie at the par-five eighth, blasting a 70-foot bunker shot to within eight feet.
After his double bogey on the 11th, Woods hustled into a portable toilet on the way to the 12th tee. Sick to his stomach after that start? No. He had to change his shirt, which was soaked with sweat in the morning’s sauna-like conditions.
Joked caddie Joe LaCava, “That one wasn’t working.”
“Normally, I change before the round,” Woods said. “There wasn’t a place to change on the 10th tee.”
Possibly drifting into the too-much-information category, Woods said, “I sweat a lot, and I lose a bunch of weight. No matter what I eat, no matter what I drink, I just can’t maintain weight. So this heat is one of the issues that I have.”
Perez surprised by start
After contending into the weekend in last month’s British Open and eventually tying for 17th, Pat Perez hovered near the top of the board again at Bellerive by opening with a three-under 67.
The 42-year-old, who is in his 17th year on the PGA Tour, has never won a major and rarely contended.
“I actually come in with less (expectations) because I don’t play well in them,” said Perez, who has a single top-10 finish in 25 major starts.
He said he didn’t think the soggy course would be good for him because he’s not among the long hitters. But Perez took advantage of his strong ball striking to enjoy a “nice, peaceful morning” of three birdies and no bogeys.
“I missed a lot of putts,” Perez said. “It really could have been a low round.”
Perez said he scrambled before his tee time to find a yellow ribbon to pin to his hat in honor of Jarrod Lyle, the Australian pro golfer who died at age 36 on Wednesday after a 19-year battle with leukemia.
Lyle, who was married with two young daughters, was known for wearing a yellow bucket hat.
Among the tour players who knew Lyle best is fellow Aussie Jason Day, who was emotional in describing his friend after he opened the tournament with a 67. Day and Lyle were neighbors in Florida in their early years on the tour.
“He battled half his life,” Day said of his illness. “And the crazy thing is he was always upbeat and positive. … You could be playing terrible, and if you’re playing golf with him, you always walked off the golf course happy.”
Furyk outplays youngsters
Jim Furyk was right. Playing with his Ryder Cup dreamers was better for him than it was for them.
The 48-year-old Furyk managed to shoot 69, while 24-year-old Xander Schauffele scored 70 and Tony Finau skied to a 74.
The younger players had an opportunity to impress the U.S. Ryder Cup captain in case they aren’t one of the 10 automatic qualifiers at the end of the PGA. Furyk will get two picks to fill out the 12-man team for the Sept. 28-30 competition.
“They fought hard and Xander got it back to even par,” Furyk said. “Tony had some bumps and bruises along the way, but he fought and fought and made some birdies.”