Winning the Masters by 12 shots gave Tiger Woods a tantalizing glimpse of what life could be like as a dominant player. Not winning in the six major championships since has taught him just how hard that can be.
Woods showed Thursday he has learned his lesson well, refusing to get too excited even after shooting a course-record 66 to take a two-stroke lead over eight golfers after the first round of the PGA Championship.With Woods scheduled for a midday tee time today, there were early indications of more low scores in the season's final major.
Paul Azinger and Bill Glasson birdied the first hole Friday to break out of an eight-player tie for second place in the PGA Championship.
Azinger, who won the 1993 PGA Championship and has not won since, and Glasson, looking for his first major, each scored a three on Sahalee Country Club's difficult opening hole to move within one stroke of Woods, whose four-under-par 66 Thursday set the course record.
Azinger and Glasson were among eight players to shoot 68 in the first round as 29-year-old Sahalee's tree-lined course proved surprisingly resistant to low scores.
Frank Lickliter, another one of the eight, also got to 3-under par with a birdie at the second but he then double bogeyed the par-3 fifth to fall to one under as the players enjoyed another day of perfect weather for the season's final major championship.
Woods showed what he said was his continuing maturation on the course in the first round. No longer does he think they will all be easy like at Augusta last year. Now, he knows better.
"I'm not going to put any more pressure on myself because I am near the lead right now," Woods said. "With three days to go, it's an eternity. You just have to go out there and hold your own for three more days."
Woods did more than hold his own on opening day under the towering trees. With the driver stuck firmly in his bag, he turned to his putter to sink six putts of 15 feet or longer.
By his own admission, it wasn't a great ball-striking day. But with only 27 putts needed to navigate the slick greens of Sahalee, the irons can be a little off.
After a bogey on the first hole and an adventurous iron shot on the second, it seemed almost easy for Woods, who capped his round with a 35-foot downhiller for birdie on the par-3 17th.
Lessons learned at Augusta and after leading the British Open with a 65 in the first round last month, only to shoot 77 on Saturday, though, weren't far from his mind.
"I know how difficult it is to win a major," Woods said. "At Augusta I was fortunate enough to play 63 straight holes where my game was pretty much right on. And it was - trust me - a lot of fun. But it has taught me how difficult it is to win."
On a day when several players made a run at the lead, only to fall back on the back nine, Woods posted his score before many in the 150-player field had even teed off.
By the time they struggled in, there were eight golfers at 2-under-par 68, including Glen Day, who was 5-under at one point before taking a double bogey on the par-4 15th.
"They don't pay you for leading on Thursday," Day said.
Among those clustered two shots back was Billy Andrade, the ninth alternate who got in only after Steve Jones withdrew following the sudden death of a close friend. Also at 68 was Paul Azinger and Craig Stadler, who was at 3-under before three-putting the final hole.
Masters and British Open winner Mark O'Meara, trying to become the first to win three majors since Ben Hogan 45 years ago, bogeyed two of the first three holes before recovering for a 69 that left him three back.
"I kept myself in the ballgame," O'Meara said. "I saw on the leaderboard that Tiger shot 4-under and had a super round. But I expected him to play well."
With just the hint of a breeze wafting through the firs and cedars that line the fairways of the 6,906-yard course, conditions
couldn't have been any better.
"Since the greens are so perfect, you just need to set the ball on the line," Woods said. "It's going to go in the hole and you start walking."
However, not everyone thrived.
John Daly took a triple-bogey 7 on the final hole to shoot 80, while David Duval and U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen both had 76s.
Woods, who has won only once in the United States this year, didn't look like much like a contender when he pushed a 2-iron off the first tee into the right rough, then hacked an 8-iron out to make bogey.
He looked even shakier after pulling out a 3-iron from 220 yards on the par-5 second hole and aiming it for the center of the green. Instead, he hit it thin and had to beg for it to clear a pond that guards the right side of the green.
"Go, Go," Woods yelled at the ball, saying later, "I was sure it was wet."
Instead, it landed on the fringe, and he chipped to 2 feet for a birdie, the first of seven on the day.
The break came early, but it was the kind of break Woods didn't get when he finished a stroke out of a playoff in the British Open last month. It's the kind of break he'll need to win the second major title of his career at 22.
Tiger Woods 34-32-66 -4
Bob Estes 35-33-68 -2
Glen Day 31-37-68 -2
Frank Lickliter 34-34-68 -2
Paul Azinger 35-33-68 -2
Bill Glasson 32-36-68 -2
S. Maruyama 34-34-68 -2
Billy Andrade 34-34-68 -2
Scott Gump 35-33-68 -2