At a time when fans are wondering whether Tiger Woods can regain his winning form, he found a way to come back into contention for the first round of the 2010 PGA Championship.
Woods finished Thursday’s first round at 1-under 71, three shots behind the co-leaders Bubba Watson and Francesco Molinari of Italy, both tied at 4-under 68. Woods started spectacularly, birdying three of the first four holes and was 3-under after five holes, but eventually lost two more shots to par over the course of the round.
Commenting on his play, Woods said, “I hit the ball pretty good, I felt like I had control of the ball most of the day, and especially my trajectory.”
“I played too good not to shoot under par, and it would have been very disappointing and frustrating to end up at even par as well as I played today.” Woods had to sink an eight-foot birdie on the 18th to break par.
Watson and Molinari were the early leaders and were able to finish their round as many players weren’t able to due to a three-hour delay resulting from heavy fog.
The site of the PGA Championship is the Whistling Straits golf course in Kohler, Wisconsin. It is a par 72, 7,507-yard long track of intimidating golf that sits up against the banks of Lake Michigan. It resembles links golf with sand traps seemingly everywhere on both sides of the fairways and around the greens. It is considered one of Pete Dye’s best creations and is ranked as the third best golf course in the world by Golf Digest.
Co-leader Bubba Watson recently won the Travelers Championship in June and is the second longest driver on the PGA tour. He put his length to good use at Whistling Straits. On the 587-yard fifth hole, he hit his drive so far that he only needed a 56 degree sand wedge to hit the green in two shots.
He missed the putt for an eagle 3 but made his birdie 4. “Bomb and gouge” is what he and his fans call it.
Thursday’s late starters will finish the first round Friday morning and immediately start the second round. For Woods, Watson, Molinari, and the rest of the players in their side of the draw, they will face a late start and may not finish Friday.
The PGA Championship has many rewards for the yet to be decided winner. His name will be permanently inscribed on the Wanamaker Trophy that can be seen at the PGA Historical Center in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
Some additional perks include a lifetime exemption into the PGA Championship, five-year exemption into the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open, and a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour.