(CNN)Tiger Woods cut a frustrated figure as the magic of the Masters eluded him on day one of the 101st US PGA Championship.
Woods was playing for the first time since winning that remarkable 15th major title at Augusta, but he struggled on the infamous Bethpage Black course on Long Island and ended with a two-over-par round of 72. Woods’ woes were a far cry from playing partner Brooks Koepka, the defending champion, who stormed to a course-record seven-under 63 — one off the all-time major record set by Branden Grace in the Open at Royal Birkdale in 2017 — to set a searing pace.
— PGA Championship (@PGAChampionship) 16 May 2019 Later in the day, New Zealander Danny Lee fired a round of 64 in breezier conditions to close in on Koepka, who has won three of his last seven majors and beat Woods to the PGA title last year before finishing second to the former world No.1 at Augusta last month. But while Koepka coasted, Woods experienced a roller-coaster of a round including two double bogeys and an eagle, not helped by a misfiring putter. Read More”It wasn’t as clean as I’d like to have it, for sure,” said Woods, who won the US Open at Bethpage in 2002. “Got it back under par for the day, and let a couple slip away with a couple bad putts and a couple mistakes at the end.” His round began in ignominious fashion with a double bogey following short-game issues after starting at the 10th.The 43-year-old steadied the ship and picked up a birdie on the 15th, his sixth, before another double bogey via the sand on the 17th took him to the turn in three-over 38.A brace of birdies starting the back nine and then an eagle three at the signature par-five fourth to get to one under gave the impression Woods had finally shaken off the rust after only playing nine holes in practice this week. “I got a little bit sick, so I decided to stay home,” he said.But the world No. 6, who still has to manage his back after spinal fusion surgery in April 2017, dropped a shot at the fifth and two more at the seventh and eighth, his 16th and 17th, throwing his head back in annoyance as another makeable putt stayed out.”I felt like it’s not that hard to make bogeys out here, but it’s hard to make birdies,” added Woods.READ: Woods’ Masters win has Nicklaus “shaking in my boots”READ: ‘It’s surreal,’ says Woods of 15th major Photos: Tiger Woods: From highs to lowsTiger Woods clinched his fifth Masters and 15th major title with victory at Augusta in April. Hide Caption 1 of 29 Photos: Tiger Woods: From highs to lowsThe former world No. 1 had not won the Masters since 2005, and it was his first major win since 2008.Hide Caption 2 of 29 Photos: Tiger Woods: From highs to lowsA month after winning the Masters, Woods received the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, from President Donald Trump.Hide Caption 3 of 29 Photos: Tiger Woods: From highs to lowsWoods won the season-ending Tour Championship in September 2018. It was his first title in five years following a succession of back injuries. Hide Caption 4 of 29 Photos: Tiger Woods: From highs to lowsSigns that Woods was back to his best were obvious at August’s PGA Championship, where he finished runner-up to Brooks Koepka. It followed an impressive showing at July’s British Open, where he briefly topped the leaderboard.Hide Caption 5 of 29 Photos: Tiger Woods: From highs to lowsWoods made an impressive return to competitive golf in 2018 after multiple back surgeries in recent years. He played his first Masters in three years in April 2018. Hide Caption 6 of 29 Photos: Tiger Woods: From highs to lowsThe four-time champion had back fusion surgery — his fourth procedure — in April 2017 and returned to the game pain-free in December. He finished tied 32nd at Augusta.Hide Caption 7 of 29 Photos: Tiger Woods: From highs to lowsWoods was touted as one of the favorites after impressing in his early-season events. He also set tongues wagging by playing a practice round with old rival Phil Mickelson, right.Hide Caption 8 of 29 Photos: Tiger Woods: From highs to lowsWoods finished tied second at the Valspar Championship in March 2018 and followed it up with a tie for fifth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. The hype needle moved into overdrive.Hide Caption 9 of 29 Photos: Tiger Woods: From highs to lowsWoods set out on his legendary path by becoming the youngest winner of the Masters — at 21 — with a record 12-shot win in 1997. Hide Caption 10 of 29 Photos: Tiger Woods: From highs to lowsOne of his most remarkable feats was winning his first US Open by an unprecedented 15 shots at Pebble Beach, California, in 2000, sparking a streak never seen before or since.Hide Caption 11 of 29 Photos: Tiger Woods: From highs to lowsWoods’ victory in the 2001 Masters meant he held all four of golf’s major titles at the same time, dubbed the “Tiger Slam.” Hide Caption 12 of 29 Photos: Tiger Woods: From highs to lowsWoods’ win rate, his dedication to fitness training and his desire to succeed were changing golf. Prize money rocketed because of Woods. Off the course, he married girlfriend Elin Nordegren in 2004. Hide Caption 13 of 29 Photos: Tiger Woods: From highs to lowsWoods showed rare emotion when he broke down in tears on the shoulder of caddie Steve Williams following his win in the 2006 British Open at Hoylake, months after his father and mentor Earl passed away. Hide Caption 14 of 29 Photos: Tiger Woods: From highs to lowsDespite being visibly hampered and in pain from a knee injury, Woods won the US Open in breathtaking fashion at Torrey Pines, California, in 2008. It was his 14th major title to leave him only four behind the record of Jack Nicklaus. He was later diagnosed with knee ligament damage and two fractures of his left tibia. He missed the rest of the season after surgery. It is still his last major title. Hide Caption 15 of 29 Photos: Tiger Woods: From highs to lowsIn December 2009, Woods crashed his car into a fire hydrant outside his home. As the big picture emerged it was discovered Woods had been conducting a series of extra martial affairs. He took three months away from the game to sort out his private life. Hide Caption 16 of 29 Photos: Tiger Woods: From highs to lowsIn February 2010 Woods addressed the world’s media to explain and apologise for his actions. His infidelity led to divorce and was the beginning of a downhill slide in Woods’ playing career. By October he lost the world No. 1 ranking, a position he had held for 281 consecutive weeksHide Caption 17 of 29 Photos: Tiger Woods: From highs to lowsBack in the fold, Woods earned his first win in two years at the Chevron World Challenge in December 2011, a charity tournament he hosts that does not count on the PGA Tour money list.Hide Caption 18 of 29 Photos: Tiger Woods: From highs to lowsWoods was back in the winner’s circle in 2013, lifting five titles, including the Arnold Palmer Invitational, to get back to the top of the rankings.Hide Caption 19 of 29 Photos: Tiger Woods: From highs to lowsIn March 2013, Woods and Lindsey Vonn announced they were dating on Facebook. In January that year, the champion skier had finalized her divorce from Thomas Vonn, after initializing proceedings in 2011. In May 2015, Woods and Vonn announced their breakup, with the golfer claiming he “hadn’t slept” in the days following. Hide Caption 20 of 29 Photos: Tiger Woods: From highs to lowsLater in 2013 there were signs all was not well as Woods was seen to be in pain as he picked the ball out of the hole at the Barclays tournament in August. He missed the Masters the following April for the first time since 1994 to undergo back surgery.Hide Caption 21 of 29 Photos: Tiger Woods: From highs to lowsWoods pulled out of the Farmers Insurance Open in February 2015, and struggled with injury and form for the rest of the season. Hide Caption 22 of 29 Photos: Tiger Woods: From highs to lowsWoods cut a dejected figure at that year’s US Open as he struggled with his game and carded rounds of 80 and 76 to miss the cut.Hide Caption 23 of 29 Photos: Tiger Woods: From highs to lowsIn August 2015 Woods made his last appearance for 15 months to undergo follow-up back surgeries. At one stage during his rehabilitation, Woods spoke of there being “no light at the end of the tunnel” — and with one eye on his fading career, he suggested “everything beyond this will be gravy.”Hide Caption 24 of 29 Photos: Tiger Woods: From highs to lowsWoods made a much-anticipated return to golf in December 2016, showing signs of promise with the highest number of birdies in the field — 24 — but he also made a number of costly errors to finish third from last in the 18-man event.Hide Caption 25 of 29 Photos: Tiger Woods: From highs to lowsHe missed the cut in his first event of 2017 in the US and pulled out after the first round of the Dubai Desert Classic in February, citing back spasms. He underwent a fourth back prodecure in April. Hide Caption 26 of 29 Photos: Tiger Woods: From highs to lowsThe golf legend was arrested Monday, May 29, on suspicion of driving under the influence. He was booked into a local jail in Florida and released a few hours later. He said in a statement he had “an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications.” Hide Caption 27 of 29 Photos: Tiger Woods: From highs to lowsIn August Woods entered a first-offender program and pleaded guilty to reckless driving on October 28. He will avoid jail unless he commits major violations of his probation. Hide Caption 28 of 29 Photos: Tiger Woods: From highs to lowsWoods returned to golf after 301 days at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas on November 30 2017. He carded a three-under first-round 69 and appeared pain-free and hungry to resume his career. Hide Caption 29 of 29‘Focus on me’The powerful Koepka, however, was on cruise control, continuing where he left off on Long Island after winning the US Open at Shinnecock Hills 60 miles to the east last June.Armed with a potent putter, he picked up three birdies on his front nine and four more coming home for a bogey-free, fuss-free round.The 29-year-old Koepka, who also shot a 63 on his way to the PGA title in St. Louis last August, is able to marry brute force with a deft touch and a single-minded demeanour on the course — the perfect antidote for the clamor that surrounds Woods.JUST WATCHEDBubba Watson on Tiger Woods’ 2019 Masters win.ReplayMore Videos …MUST WATCH
Bubba Watson on Tiger Woods’ 2019 Masters win. 03:45 “You know, it was great that Tiger won Augusta, but I mean, we’re at a new week now,” Koepka told a news conference after his round. “I’ve just got to go out there and focus on me. “You know what you’re going to get when you play with him. I mean, obviously everybody in New York is going to be cheering for him, and it’s going to be loud, especially if he makes a putt. You’ve just got to keep battling and find a way to get through it.”Get through it he did, and then some.”That was one of the best rounds I’ve played probably as a professional. This golf course is brutal,” he added.Of other marquee names, world No.1 Dustin Johnson, Grand Slam-chasing Jordan Spieth and veteran Phil Mickelson ended one under, while Rory McIlroy, seeking a fifth major and first since 2014, finished two over. “Anything under par on this course is great,” said Spieth, who needs the US PGA to become only the sixth player to complete the set of all four majors. “What Brooks and Danny did is out of this world. They must have hit a lot of fairways.”Behind the top two, England’s Tommy Fleetwood led the way, carding a three-under 67 to keep tabs on Koepka, just as he did to finish second behind the American at Shinnecock last year.