Big stars heading in opposite ways

Woods continues to struggle as McIlroy stays hot

By Brian Rickerd Published:

LOUISVILLE —
Lee Westwood, Kevin Chappell and Ryan Palmer jumped out to the early lead at the PGA Championship at Valhalla Thursday, each posting 6-under par.
Rory McIlroy continued his recent stellar play with a opening round 66 (5-under).
Tiger Woods opened with a disappointing 3-over-par 74 and was greeted with this observation in his post-match interview:
“You look disappointed,” a reporter said to Woods.
“It wasn’t very good,” Woods said of his round. “A lot of bad shots, and I never got a putt to the hole. Just for some reason I thought they (greens) were going to be a little bit quicker, and I didn’t make the adjustment well enough.”
Woods was then asked how much of Thursday’s struggle was due to the current state of his game versus the fact that he had not played Valhalla since his PGA Championship win here in 2000.
“As I said, I didn’t play as well as I wanted to, and I didn’t get a putt to the hole. That’s not a good combo.”
Asked about the condition of his surgically repaired back, Woods said: “It’s a little bit stiff, but that’s about it.”
Woods said he would skip his usual post-round practice.
“I’m going to go get treatment, and make sure this thing is nice and loose for tomorrow,” he said.
Woods was slated to tee off at 1:45 this afternoon in the second round.
Kentucky boys
Kentuckians J.B. Holmes and Kenny Perry put themselves in good position to at least make the cut, and perhaps contend, with their first-round efforts. Holmes, of Campbellsville, shot a 3-under 68 and Perry, of Franklin, is at 1-over 72.
Ryan Palmer, Lee Westwood and Kevin Chappell all share the lead at 65 on the 7,458-yard, par-71 Valhalla layout. Red-hot Rory McIlroy is among those on their heels, just one shot back.
“I played really well all day,” Holmes said of his 2-under. “The hole I made a double (bogey), I got a bad break. My ball was in a deep divot in the fairway, and that cost me two shots.”
Perry said he “struggled all day.”
“I didn’t play bad, I didn’t play good,” Perry said.
Grumpy Watson
Bubba Watson ended the first round like he started it — grumpy — despite a 2-under 69.
“It was a great day other than the fact that it took five, five hours-plus to play a round of golf,” Watson said.
Furyk has own opinion
Jim Furyk was incredulous when told that Tiger Woods had suggested that Valhalla was playing fast on Thursday.
“Wow, I don’t think it could be any softer, so I’m surprised, actually,” Furyk after a first-round 66. “I think for as little rain as we have, I’m shocked at how slow the golf course is playing. So for him to say that, I’m surprised. I would say right now it’s playing right into the bombers’ hands. It’s a long golf course, and it’s playing soft.”
Frustration
England’s Lee Westwood had some fun banter with a foreign reporter when the 41-year-old Westwood was asked about his fitness after his first-round 65.
“Have you been doing extra fitness work, because you’re looking in quite good nick?” Westwood was asked.
“Very nice of you to say and notice,” Westwood said with a broad smile. “Which part of me?”
Westwood admits, however, to being a bit of a hot head on the golf course.
“You know, it’s a frustrating game,” he said. “Anybody in this room that plays it knows how frustrating it is, and how much it can get to you, and how much you can swear. It’s part of the game.”
On a related note, Texan Brian Norman was asked about his nerves after he fired a first-round 78.
“They weren’t too bad,” Norman said of nerves. “When I started hitting them in the water, they got a little worse.”
Phil Mickelson talked about how fickle emotions can be after he came off a 62 in the final round at Firestone this past Sunday with a 69 on Thursday.
“I stood on the first tee for the first time this year like I was ready to play, ready to compete, and try to win a championship,” Mickelson said. “I hit the ugliest shot on the first hole. I mean, it was so far left, I don’t even know what to say. I was lucky it wasn’t out of bounds.”
Mickelson was 2-over through eight holes, before steadying himself.
“I thought I had a low 60s round in me,’’ he reiterated. “I thought I was going to light it up. Then I came out and played the way I did the first eight holes.”
Chappell maturity
Kevin Chappell had a colorful way of explaining a new-found maturity that’s helped him play more consistent golf this year and has him tied for the PGA lead.
“I’ve created some consistency in the middle of the leaderboard, which I haven’t had in my career,” Chappell explained. “(In the past) It’s either been missed the cut or top 10. There’s been a few, let’s say, screws loose that needed some tightening to get me near the leaderboard. I think I’m a lot more mature today.”

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