Tiger Woods three-under through seven holes at rain-delayed PGA Championship

August 10, 2018

ST. LOUIS — Bellerive was positively buzzing on Friday afternoon, particularly around one group: the featured threesome of Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy. It was the latter two who had looked sharper during Thursday’s opening round, but their scores hardly reflected it by the end of the day: Thomas posted 69 to the 70s of Woods and McIlroy.

But it was Woods who came out firing on Friday afternoon. With 90-degree temperatures plus sun and booze fueling the throngs in tow, roars chased the three down the first fairway. Woods made a pedestrian par at No. 1 but then holed a 14-footer for birdie at No. 2.

It got even better at the short par-3 3rd, which played at just 132 yards on Friday. Woods nearly holed his tee shot, which spun back to inside six feet for another birdie.

A glistening long iron at No. 4 almost led to a birdie from the fringe. Then Woods smoked a tee shot down the 5th, changed into a dry Nike shirt — a foolproof strategy, as of Thursday — and stuck his approach to 10 feet for another birdie.

Perhaps the most important shot of Woods’s day came at the par-3 6th. After tugging his tee shot into a tricky lie in the bunker, Woods splashed it out, but it ball hung up in the fringe and stopped 15 feet short. The edge of the greens are particularly scraggly, but good form and good fortune smiled on Woods’s par putt, which cruised through the rugged patch and caught the edge of the hole, dropping for an unlikely save.

A loose tee shot at No. 7 left Woods in the fairway bunker, from which point his approach shot came down directly at the front pin but landed just short of the putting surface. He lipped out the chip, eliciting a characteristic roar-groan-cheer sequence from the crowd. As Woods made a mini-run, McIlroy (seven pars) and Thomas (six pars and a bogey) held steady.

The sun was still beating down as Woods teed off on the par-5 8th, but dark clouds loomed, and the sky began to rumble. Woods missed his tee shot left and punched an iron down the fairway, leaving himself some 60 yards from the green. He walked up to his ball as Thomas and McIlroy waited in the fairway for the green to clear. The Goodyear blimp soared overhead, with blue sky to one side of it and thunderheads to the other. And then the horn blew.

Play will resume at 7:00 a.m. local time Saturday morning, meaning a 28.5 hole day for the featured trio. It will begin with an in-between wedge shot for Woods. He’ll have plenty of time to practice those during an early-morning session on a soggy range.