The world waited and wondered what kind of round Tiger Woods could produce at the PGA Championship. The score, three-over par, put him in 130th place with the afternoon golfers yet to finish. The cut comes at top 70 and ties.
"My swing was dialed in on that range out there. Unfortunately, I didn't carry it to the golf course," he said after his round, clearly disappointed.
He has work to do.
However, despite his score, looking at where he hit the ball, Tiger is not that far away from playing well, as ridiculous as that might sound.
Starting on the 10th, Woods' first big mistakes Thursday came with his irons on the par threes where he missed the green at the 11th and 14th.
He had a blip on 18, where he pulled a tee shot into the bunker left of the fairway.
"It buried, if you believe it or not," he expained. "The ball rolled in the bunker, hit the lip, came straight up and buried. I had a choice to play sideways or do I try and carry the next bunker." He ended up hitting out to the fairway where he had 8-iron distance to the green..
That translated to bogey at both of the par threes and a missed birdie opportunity at the par-five 18th.
On the back side, he pulled a tee shot at the first hole into native grass and then hit a mediocre second shot that did not reach the green, resulting in a bogey. He also made a mess of the second, where he hit into water on the left, eventually saving bogey with a 10-foot putt.
After that, Woods did not miss a fairway or green in regulation until the seventh hole on his final nine. He actually eagled the 16th, so he has not forgotten how to score.
In summary, four shots, two of them caused by uncharacteristic misses of greens on par threes, cost him in his first round.
But three days ago, Tiger did not know if he would be able to swing a club this week. That’s some turnaround. It portends better things for Round 2. However, he has to turn it around to play on the weekend.
"If I get under par for two rounds, that will be right in the ball game," he said.
Playing companion Phil Mickelson, who finished the first round at one-under, said of Woods, “I thought he played with a lot of heart. It’s not easy when your game isn’t where you want it.”
He cited the second hole and said a lot of players would lose interest after hitting in the water, but Woods was grinding for the best score he could salvage.
Mickelson missed three fairways on the first nine holes, and he walked away at one-under par for the round. He was disappointed but not disheartened.
“Given the first eight holes, it was a good start,” Mickelson said. He said despite great practice rounds, and his good scoring Sunday at Firestone, his play was not there today.
“I stood on the first tee for the first time this year like I was ready to play, ready to compete and try to win a championship,” he said. “I hit the ugliest shot off the first hole. I mean it was so far left, I don’t even know what to say.”
It was the 10th hole, and he pulled it left of the cart path into native stuff.
“I was lucky it wasn’t out of bounds. Horrific.”
Then he repeated that shot on the 11th.
He played the last 10 holes four-under par and salvaged 70. He said all the bad shots boiled down to a loss of confidence from less than stellar play for all of 2014.
“I can’t afford to play like I did those first eight holes,” he added. “My game finally has kind of come together, and the confidence just needs to slowly come with it.”
Kathy Bissell is a Golf Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand or from official interview materials from the USGA, PGA Tour or PGA of America.