Tiger in major nightmare

The dreaded par-3 15th hole at Atlanta Athletic Club struck early on Thursday with Tiger Woods the victim.

The dreaded par-3 15th hole at Atlanta Athletic Club struck early on Thursday, when it knocked a fast-starting Tiger Woods off the top of the leaderboard.

Woods, teeing off on the tougher back nine in Thursday’s first round of the 93rd PGA Championship after missing the US and British Opens with a knee injury and finishing only 37th in his warm-up at last week’s WGC Bridgestone Invitational, started out today like the great champion he has been, birdying his first hole with a cool 14-foot putt after playing the 442-yard, par-four 10th as well as it has ever been played.

Further birdies followed at the 551-yard, par-five 12th and the 468 yard par-four 14th, but then, just when it looked as if the long-time former World No 1 was getting ready for something special, he ran into the unforgiving, 260-yard, dogleg par three 15th and after finding water with his tee shot, ended up with a double bogey that yanked him away from the top of the leaderboard which he was sharing with England’s Ross Fisher and America stalwarts Bubba Watson, Steve Stricker and Bill Haas and dropped him back into the chasing pack at 1-under.

Sadly it wasn’t the end of his woes.

Woods was now into the feared final four holes, which he himself had described as the toughest closing stretche he had ever seen and promptly added another bogey at the 16th to fall back further to a level par score.

Woods parred the 17th, but the fearsome 18th lay ahead and he stumbled again with his second double bogey as his round began to turn into a nightmare.

The friendlier front nine showed him no warmth either and after moving through the turn at 2-over, he starting his closing stretch with back-to-back bogeys as his game came apart at the seams and although he managed a par at the third and a birdie at the 5th, a further bogey at the par three 4th and a double bogey at the par four 6th sent him crashing to six over after 15 holes and may well have consigned him to the group of bottom feeders who are going to miss the cut.

The battling, one-time Colossus of the golfing world managed to par the 7th and 8th holes, but another bogey at the 9th, his last, left the luckless four-time PGA champion to pencil in an opening 7-over 77 which had to be his worst ever opening round in any major.

Earlier US club professional Craig Stevens had got the 93rd PGA Championship away at 7.30 am local eastern time when he hit the first tee shot off the first tee at the AAC.

Stevens had teed off alongside PGA Tour regulars Brendan de Jonge of Zimbabwe and John Rollins of the USA.