By Ann Liguori
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The Tiger Show was a big flop on Thursday, but the good news is that he’s playing, and he feels good physically.
After shooting a 3-over 74, when asked about his back, Tiger Woods said it felt a little bit stiff, but “the surgery part is fine, that’s all good.”
And that’s great news for the 38-year-old winner of 14 majors, who didn’t announce he was even playing in this PGA Championship until Wednesday afternoon. After his practice on Wednesday, Tiger talked a bit about the injury he suffered this past Sunday during the Bridgestone Invitational, when he jarred his lower back.
“It was a different pain than what I had been experiencing, so I knew it wasn’t the site of the surgery,” he said.
Tiger started his quest to win his first major since 2008 on the 10th hole early Thursday morning, playing with Phil Mickelson and Padraig Harrington. He bogeyed the 11th, chipped in for birdie on the 16th but then started the front nine with two bogies. He missed several makeable birdie putts and struggled off the tee, missing left. A snap hook on the second tee landed in the creek, and he dropped a 10-footer to save bogie there.
“I hit a lot of bad shots and I never got a putt to the hole,” admitted Tiger. “I had plenty of looks to turn my round around and then post something even par, even under par. My swing was dialed in on that range out there. Unfortunately, I didn’t carry it to the golf course.”
Meanwhile, Mickelson birdied three of his last six holes to card a 2-under 69. Mickelson admitted to being nervous out there, having not played consistently well all season. He said he had three great practice days and his game felt really sharp.
“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,” said Mickelson.
And when Mickelson was asked about playing with Tiger, the 44-year-old said that Tiger “showed a lot of heart. It’s hard when your game is not there.”
Mickelson knows how it feels. The five-time major champion and winner of the 2005 PGA Championship hasn’t posted a top-10 finish all season in 17 starts.
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