‘I’m Getting Stronger For Sure’ – Tiger Woods Heartened By Improving Fitness Despite Disappointing First-Round PGA Championship Finish

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Tiger Woods sought to take the positives from his first round at the PGA Championship despite a stuttering finish that left him with work to do to make the cut on Friday.

Woods, making his first appearance since last month’s Masters, bogeyed his final two holes to sign off for a first-round 72 and leave him ten shots behind clubhouse leader Xander Schauffele.

Playing in benign morning conditions at Valhalla, the 15-time Major champion made three birdies but also carded four bogeys as he returned to the course where he won the PGA Championship back in 2000.

And, speaking after the round, the American insisted the round represented another positive step in his comeback from serious ankle surgery last year.

“I am getting stronger for sure. It’s just that I just don’t play a whole lot of competitive rounds,” he said. “I haven’t played since the Masters. So it’s a little bit different than being at home and playing a flat Florida course.

Tiger Woods in the first round of the 2024 PGA CHAMPIONSHIP

“Each day is a little bit different. Some days, it’s better than others. It’s just the way it is. My body is just that way. Some days, it feels great, and other days, a bit of a struggle.

“It took me probably three holes to get back into competitive flow again and get a feel for hitting the ball out there in competition, adrenaline, temperatures, green speeds. These are all things that normally I adjust to very quickly, and it just took me a few holes to get into it.”

Starting on the back nine, Woods bogeyed the par-3 11th after an errant tee shot but bounced back with a birdie on the 14th hole. Another bogey followed on the 15th – as he carded a first-nine 37 – but the 48-year-old got back to level par after a superb tee shot into the third hole.

Woods was briefly in the red after another birdie, this time at the par-5 seventh, but a sloppy finish saw the 82-time PGA Tour winner bogey his final two holes to sign off for a one-over-par round of 72.

“Well, you can’t win a tournament unless you make the cut. That’s the whole idea is get to the weekend so that you can participate and have a chance to win,” he added.

“I’ve been on the cut number and have won tournaments, or I’ve been ahead and leading tournaments and I’ve won tournaments. But you have to get to the weekend in order to win a golf tournament.”

Setting the early pace on Thursday was Woods’ fellow countryman Schauffele, who broke records with his blistering nine-under-par 62. The World No.3 is sat on -9, with Tony Finau and Sahith Theegala his closest competitors on -6.

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