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Woods insists he can get back into PGA Championship after frustrating round

Despite starting with a sublime birdie on the first, Tiger Woods finished with four-over par round of 74 on the opening day of the US PGA Championship at Southern Hills

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A defiant Tiger Woods insisted he can get back in contention for the US PGA Championship despite firing an opening round of 74 at Southern Hills.

After a sublime start, the 15-time major champion struggled notably with his iron play to end up four-over par. It leaves the American tied for 99th place, and facing a real battle to still be in Oklahoma for the weekend.

Woods, 46, appeared in considerable discomfort during Wednesday’s practice round, as he continues his comeback from the high-speed car crash that ruled him out of professional tournaments for more than a year. But there was no sign of any physical pain when he left his approach stone-dead on his first hole.

Playing the back nine first, Woods duly tapped in for his birdie on the 10th, and three pars followed before another sumptuous approach on the 13th set up another chance. He made no mistake and you sensed anticipation building as the crowd roared their approval.

However, a wayward drive led to bogey on the par-4 14th and from there, Woods appeared up against it. He dropped another stroke to reach the turn level par and then four further bogeys followed, leaving him nine off leader Rory McIlroy. To compound his day, he was involved in a verbal altercation with a cameraman.

Prior to the tournament, Woods had insisted he was “ready” to win a fifth PGA title, despite The Masters representing his only event thus far in 2022. And speaking to Sky Sports after his round on Thursday, he held onto that claim, acknowledging he would need to shoot low on Friday.

Tiger Woods is targeting a low round on Friday at the US PGA
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Image:

Kyle Rivas/UPI/REX/Shutterstock)

“[I’ll] try and shoot something in the mid-60s tomorrow. Rory proved today it can be done, he made it look very easy,” said Woods. “It can be done. I witnessed it first hand. Hopefully I can shoot something low and get back in the tournament.”

And Woods, who admitted his Thursday evening was going to comprise of ‘lots of treatment and ice’, admitted his positive start made his eventual score more frustrating: “Physically I’ve felt better. Emotionally I’ve felt better too,” he said.

“It’s frustrating, I got off to a great start today, I did exactly what I needed to to start off the round but I did not keep it going. I hit a lot of bad iron shots and put myself in a lot of bad spots. Never really gave myself any birdie putts.”

Woods was playing alongside Jordan Spieth and the excellent McIlroy, who appeared to pick up where he left off from that final round charge at Augusta. The Northern Irishman carded seven birdies in his score of 65, leaving him one shot clear of US players Will Zalatoris and Tom Hoge.

Like Woods, Spieth also failed to capitalise on a good start, eventually finishing two-over par after a 72. The trio will begin their second round at 7.36pm UK time on Friday.

Pre-tournament favourites Scottie Scheffler and Jon Rahm also struggled, with the Masters champion one-over par and the Spaniard another two shots further back. The cut currently stands at two over par.

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