Projecting Tiger Woods' Day 1 Score at 2013 PGA Championship
Coming off a convincing victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational last week, Tiger Woods is the odds-on favorite to win the 2013 PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y. Woods has been favored in every major this year, however, and he has yet to break through with a victory.
That could very well change this week, though, as Woods is playing his best golf in years. Not only does Woods have five victories, but he blew away a stacked field at Firestone Country Club last week, so shades of the old Tiger seem to be emerging.
It is well documented that Woods hasn't won a major championship since the 2008 U.S. Open, but he has constantly been in the mix at majors over the past couple years. Although he has failed to close one out, Tiger generally seems to start strong before fading a bit.
Jumping out to an early lead has always been Woods' modus operandi, as he has never won a major without at least a share of the lead through 54 holes. Woods' issue in recent majors, however, has been his inability to open up a big enough lead. He hasn't left himself any margin for error on Saturday and Sunday, and that is why he has been unable to close the deal.
With that in mind, Woods will be focused on jumping out to an early lead at Oak Hill just as he did last week at the Bridgestone. Tiger was actually a couple shots back after the first round last week, but a second-round 61 gave him a commanding lead, and he never looked back. Shooting a 61 at Oak Hill is virtually impossible, but anything under par in the first round would suffice.
The PGA Championship has been staged at Oak Hill twice before in 1980 and 2003, so there is some history to draw upon. Jack Nicklaus was the winner in 1980, and he did so in dominant fashion with an overall score of 6-under par. Nicklaus was the only player under par as Andy Bean finished second at 1-over.
How will Tiger Woods fare in the first round of the PGA Championship?
Nicklaus opened with an even-par 70 that year, and gradually got better as the tournament went on. The 2003 edition of the PGA Championship wasn't quite so cut and dried, as several lesser-known players were in contention. Shaun Micheel came out on top with a score of 4-under par with Chad Campbell and Tim Clark also shooting under par, but there was very little star power in the mix.
Woods competed in that tournament, but he was a non-factor, as he opened with a 4-over par round and finished tied for 39th at 12-over for the tournament. While that may not bode well for Woods' chances this time around, it is now a decade later, and plenty has changed since then.
Micheel shot a 1-under 69 in the first round back in 2003, so the precedent seems to be that even par or a bit better is where a golfer wants to be in order to contend for the PGA Championship at Oak Hill. Based on the fact that Woods has a ton of momentum behind him coming off the win at the Bridgestone, a first-round 70 isn't too much to ask.
Not only would a win be huge for Woods due to the fact that he is chasing Nicklaus' major record, but he is also on the verge of breaking another longtime record. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Woods is now three wins shy of Sam Snead's all-time victories mark.
Tiger Woods has won 79 PGA TOUR titles, 3 shy of Sam Snead's all-time record— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 4, 2013
If Woods is going to make progress on both fronts this weekend, a solid start is absolutely paramount. Oak Hill is a very tough course that doesn't allow for low scores, so as long as Woods stays out of trouble out on the course, he is going to give himself a chance heading into Friday.
Tiger would love to jump out to a huge lead this week, but that probably won't be an option at Oak Hill. He'll have to grind out a victory, which is something he has failed to do at a major since 2008, but he seems to have the mindset necessary to do so currently.
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