The term “variety show” used in reference to Tiger Woods can sometimes conjure up a grimace. Woods, when he’s struggling, has a tendency to be all over the map.
But on Thursday, Woods’ opening 2-under 68 at TPC Harding Park in the first round of the PGA Championship played out in stages. Starting on No. 10, Woods demonstrated a real control over his golf ball early in the day, shaping his drive left around the corner at the par-4 12th and then following it up with a handy cut at the next hole, a dogleg right.
He got it to 2 under at the 14th tee before losing control, starting with a drive to deep left rough on that hole.
After missing the fairway at No. 14, Woods didn’t hit one again until No. 5.
There were hacks out of the rough (with none appearing to cause any harm to his fragile back) but also deft pitch shots, stuffed approaches, par saves and near misses. Under early hazy skies in the San Francisco Bay Area – and without the usual stampede that would surround Woods at a major – he seemed in control the entire day even though his play never reached the point of flashy.
He reached 3 under with a birdie on No. 7, promptly dumped his approach into the par-3 eighth in a bunker and despite facing just a few feet for par, walked away with a bogey.
Woods blistered his final drive at No. 9 and walked away with one final par that left him inside the top 20 with much of the field still yet to finish.
In all, it was a round that suggests this week might have a little of that old Woods-at-a-major magic.