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Tiger Woods Shoots 68 in Strong 1st-Round Performance at 2020 PGA Championship

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 6, 2020

Tiger Woods watches his tee shot on the 12th hole during the first round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at TPC Harding Park Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Through the first round of the 2020 PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park, Tiger Woods is poised to be in the thick of the title hunt in San Francisco.

The 15-time major champion was three shots behind clubhouse leader Jason Day when he finished with a two-under 68.

PGA Championship @PGAChampionship

6️⃣8️⃣ - Tiger Wood's lowest opening round score in a major championship since 2012. #PGAChamp https://t.co/NCP23quwj6

The Action Network's Jason Sobel noted he's basically on pace with the standard he set in each of his major victories:

Jason Sobel @JasonSobelTAN

Tiger Woods’ opening round scores in his 15 major wins: 70 70 65 67 66 70 70 67 74 66 67 69 71 72 70 Scoring average of 68.93 in those rounds. He shoots 68 today.

Woods opened the round on the 10th tee with a birdie. Then on No. 13, he sank a 33-foot putt for a birdie to move to two under.

PGA Championship @PGAChampionship

A long birdie putt moves Tiger to 2-under. Full Leaderboard➡️ https://t.co/QV8fkpw4hG https://t.co/b5AAmoUl3c

The 44-year-old bogeyed No. 14 and fell back to even par with another bogey on No. 2.

His form rebounded nicely over the remainder of his back nine. He collected back-to-back birdies on the fourth and fifth holes.

ESPN @espn

Back-to-back birdies for Tiger 🐦 Stream his round on ESPN+ https://t.co/5GPPRRGnVj https://t.co/OsITbfFoYF

Woods split the fairway with his drive on No. 7 and got onto the green with his second shot to set up a 13-foot birdie putt. He found the bottom of the cup to sit at three under with two holes remaining.

Woods didn't get to enjoy the position for long as he found a green-side bunker with his tee shot on the par-three eighth hole. He left himself with an eight-foot par putt but was unable to connect and had to settle for a bogey.

All in all, finishing the first round tied for 18th place was an encouraging showing from Woods considering he had competed in only one tournament since February prior to the PGA Championship. 

According to PGATour.com, he's averaging 313.8 yards on his drives, and his putter change is working out nicely. He gained 1.347 putting strokes, a vast improvement on the minus-0.840 putting strokes he has averaged this season.

One would presume Woods' performance can only improve as he gets into a comfort zone at Harding Park. In the California native's last three tournaments, however, his second-round score climbed in relation to his first round.

Woods will tee off Friday at 1:58 p.m. PT with Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas on the first hole.