Tiger all over the place at golf major
STEP off the edge and let the rollercoaster ride begin.
So it went for a rusty-looking Tiger Woods as his PGA Championship opened with a wild two-over 72 at Bethpage Black, finishing nine shots back of his playing partner, early leader Brooks Koepka.
It was Woods' first competitive round since winning his 15th career major at the Masters in April, and it began with a double-bogey at his first hole, No. 10.
It was a shock to the system with the dew still on the grass at 8.24am and a few enthusiastic fans clad head to toe in striped Tiger outfits.
Woods also made double-bogey on his first hole of the US Open in 2008 - a tournament he went on to win, his most recent major before the Masters.
His opening-nine three-over 38 featured another double-bogey at the par-three 17th hole as Woods plugged his tee shot into the lip of the front bunker, blasting out, then needing three with the putter from just off the back of the green.
But Woods wasted no time making up ground once he made the turn, able to slash one out of the right rough on No. 1 to 14-feet, making the birdie putt to get to two-over on the day.
He then stuck an approach shot on No. 2 for another birdie, and then rolled in an eagle putt on No. 4 to get to 1-under.
He made two bogeys at two of the most difficult holes on the course, the long par-four's fifth and seventh, pushing him back to one-over. He then made a bad bogey at the par-three eighth hole from just off the green, a woeful chip and a missed eight-foot par putt that were completely deflating.
After a par at No. 9, Woods finished up his one-under back nine and a round that was bizarre and coloured with rust.
PGA CHAMPIONSHIP LEADERBOARD
1. Brooks Koepka (US) - -7
2. Danny Lee (NZ) - -6
3. Tommy Fleetwood (ENG) - -3
Tied-9. Jason Day (AUS), Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson (US) - -1
Tied-41. Adam Scott (AUS) - +1
Tied-52. Tiger Woods (US) - +2
Tied-74. Cameron Smith (AUS) - +3
Tied-92. Marc Leishman (AUS) - +4
Tied-111. John Daly (US) - +5
KOEPKA'S SCORCHING START
Koepka began his round by dropping a 40-foot birdie bomb on his first hole, the 10th. He ended the round by dropping a 33-foot birdie bomb putt on his final hole, No. 9.
And when the dust from his magnificent round had settled, Koepka finished with a seven-under 63 and looked like a player playing a different golf course than the rest of the field.
The amazing thing about Koepka's round was not his final score or the lead he took, but the score he could have posted. The 63 he shot, which tied a major championship record held by many, could have been much better.
Koepka missed birdie putts of inside 12 feet on holes 11, 13 and two.
He birdied Nos. 10, 14 and 18 on his first nine holes and then birdied Nos. 1, 3, 5 and 9 on his back nine. He finished with a clean card, bogey free.
Playing with Woods, whom Koepka has credited with drawing him to the game, was added motivation. Koepka got the best of Woods at the PGA in August and Woods outlasted Koepka at the Masters last month.
"I don't see it as a rivalry," Koepka said before the tournament. "It's not like there's a huge history there. It's just really been the last couple years. So I don't see it as a rivalry, although it is fun to play against him, best player to ever play the game. I'm just looking forward to this week, to playing with him. It'll be interesting."
With a victory, Koepka would become the first player to own back-to-back titles at two majors at the same time.