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McIlroy overcomes double bogey to shoot 66 at PGA

Tiger 'Wasn't Very Good'

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- For Rory McIlroy, the shockingly bad shot came out of nowhere.

No worries.

By the time he walked off the 18th green, there was little doubt he was still the man to beat at the PGA Championship.

McIlroy ripped off four straight birdies on the back side and closed with another at the 18th hole, shooting a 5-under 66 at Valhalla that left him one shot off the lead Thursday.

Coming off wins at the British Open and Firestone, McIlroy came into the final major of the year as an overwhelming favorite. Even with a major blunder at the 10th, where he knocked his second shot over a fence and took double bogey, he was right on the heels of Lee Westwood, Ryan Palmer and Kevin Chappell.

"I'm really happy with everything," McIlroy said. "I've got a good thing going right now. I'm trying to ride that momentum as much as I can."

Then there's Tiger Woods, who can't seem to get anything going.

Playing just four days after his back flared up at Firestone, forcing him to withdraw, Woods proclaimed himself fit but sprayed shots all over the course on the way to a 74 that left him tied for 111th late in the day.

"That wasn't very good," said Woods, who made only one birdie - and had to hole out from the fairway to do that. "A lot of bad shots."

One landed in a creek. Another sent the gallery scrambling. Yet another rolled into a fenced-off area where fans can use cellphones, a good 30 yards right of the fairway.

Too bad Woods couldn't call for help.

"I didn't play as well as I wanted to. I didn't get a putt to the hole," he said. "That's not a good combo."

McIlroy was cruising along when he got to the 10th, having made three birdies on the front side. After putting his tee shot right in the middle of the fairway at the par-5 hole, he yanked the next one out of bounds. A man talking on his cellphone along the fence, not concerned at all with getting in the way, was stunned with he looked up to see a ball sailing over his head.

Especially when he learned whose ball it was.

"I was really annoyed," McIlroy said. "That second shot at 10 is the worst shot I've hit in weeks. It came out of the blue."

He took a penalty and a drop and missed the fairway with his next attempt as well, resulting in a 7. Still shaken by that miscue, McIlroy made bogey at No. 11 to slip to even on the day.

Just like that, he pulled himself together.

Four straight birdies pushed McIlroy right back up the leaderboard, and it could have easily been five in a row. A 12-footer slid over the edge of the cup at the 16th.

At the final hole, McIlroy reached the green in two for an eagle try to share the lead. If curled off at the end, leaving him with a tap-in - his eighth birdie of the round.

"It could have been better," he said. "But a 66 the first day, that's a solid start."

Westwood matched his best round ever at a major, making nine birdies as he carried over the momentum from a closing 63 at Firestone. The 41-year-old Englishman also had a double bogey on his 10th hole of day - at No. 1, after starting on the back - but closed with four straight birdies.

"The golf course was all there in front of me. I just play it as I see it," said Westwood, who has had numerous close calls but never won a major championship. "Last week, I felt like I turned a corner."

Chappell, a 28-year-old Californian in his fourth year on the PGA Tour, turned in a bogey-free round. The final major of the year has produced some unlikely champions - remember Shaun Micheel? - and Chappell hopes to be the latest.

"I can't complain about being in the lead of any golf tournament," said Chappell, whose only professional win came on the Web.com Tour in 2010. "I just look forward to keeping it rolling."

Palmer birdied five of the nine holes on the back side, which is where he started his round. He said the greens were more inviting than he expected.

"I was surprised how soft they were," he said. "It was a pretty easy, relaxing nine for me."

McIlroy was joined at 65 by Jim Furyk, Henrik Stenson, Edoardo Molinari and Chris Wood.

For Furyk, it was another strong start in a tournament he nearly won a year ago. He took a lead to the final day at Oak Hill, only to lose to Jason Dufner by two strokes.

Dufner's title defense lasted only 10 holes. Plagued by a sore neck, he withdrew after a triple-bogey left his score at 8 over, probably ending his Ryder Cup hopes as well. He came in ranked No. 8 in the standings and hoping to somehow play well enough to stay in one of the nine qualifying spots.

"I tried to do what I could to be able to compete some and give it a go," Dufner said, "but it is just pointless."

Join the discussion

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bailey.willie August 07 2014 at 8:35 PM

TIGER WHEN ARE YOU AND THE MEDIA GOING TO REALIZE THAT YOUR DAY HAS COME AND GONE. WHAT IS YOUR EXCUSE GOING TO BE THIS WEEK. WHEN ARE THE TV COMMENTORS GOING TO STOP TALKING ALWAYS ABOUT TIGER, THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF BETTER GOLFERS YOU CAN TALK ABOUT

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3 replies
dhendr3229 August 07 2014 at 8:37 PM

How many holes before his "back" acts up again?

Flag Reply +16 rate up
3 replies
skidrowtom August 07 2014 at 9:35 PM

Eldrick plays crappy golf and drops the F bomb, yet still commands the headlines. Give it up media. Eldrick's a flawed, foul mouthed has-been and does not command respect or role model status.

Flag Reply +13 rate up
3 replies
pbgardenpet August 07 2014 at 9:08 PM

Woods needs to just stay home and let the real players play. He is finished.

Flag Reply +11 rate up
1 reply
eric pbgardenpet August 08 2014 at 4:35 AM

Should Westwood join him at the "Old Folks Home"? Oh wait, that's right!! The 41 y.o. is at the top of the leader board--but then he's white, right?

Flag Reply +1 rate up
2 replies
rxpharmd eric August 08 2014 at 8:55 AM

Nobody cares that Tiger is Asian eric.

Flag 0 rate up
niceguy71653 eric August 08 2014 at 11:22 AM

Barack is that you? Must be, if everything is about race.

Flag 0 rate up
Dick August 07 2014 at 8:35 PM

He brought all this bad luck on himself when he broke his marriage vows and became a womanizer!!!

Flag Reply +9 rate up
4 replies
M.A.P August 07 2014 at 9:13 PM

There are more players in this tournament besides Tiger Woods. Seems like all the attention has been focused on him since he has tried to comeback and to know avail. His time seems to have come and gone. He will never be the Player Nicklaus was. From the point of playing to the way Nicklaus interacted with the public.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
msmith6791 August 07 2014 at 10:17 PM

SAID ABOUT T WOODS: "hen there's Tiger Woods, who can't seem to get anything going."

Tiger Woods could not do anything LAST week at an event and walked out. He should NOT have come to this one.

I think Tiger Woods is slowly becoming an anathema and people are tired of him - his glory days are gone and his popularity is rapidly waning.

He should simply just stop playing golf and save the bad publicity. Where once people were attracted to golf because of Woods, now they are getting turned OFF because of Wood.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
1 reply
rxpharmd msmith6791 August 08 2014 at 9:00 AM

It's a small thing that irks me about the Tiger thing. Before Tiger, you could tell who the last player was to make it to a certain number uner par. Say five players are at -6, Tiger will be the first player you see at -6 on the leader board every time. They want his name as close to the top as they can get it. I'd just like to see the playing field level.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
ranewbould August 07 2014 at 11:44 PM

Too much poking and not enough golf for the Tiger.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
rude August 08 2014 at 12:59 AM

Just another F-bomb day for ol Tiger.
"Roid rage"?????

Flag Reply +7 rate up
romag46 August 07 2014 at 9:36 PM

Quitting last week looked very suspect .....I know what you go through with a bad back and no way would he have recovered that quickly to play so soon.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
2 replies
rkbup romag46 August 08 2014 at 6:35 AM

Amen Amen....I KNOW I couldn't/didn't/don't bounce back in couple days...BUT maybe his back is made of different stuff*%#$&((?Superman stuff??

Flag Reply +1 rate up
tigerlill20 romag46 August 08 2014 at 8:08 AM

rom, it's according to what part of your back is operated on, IF he really had the operation. He always has an excuse whenever he plays badly, which is quite often. It's difficult for him to play without his steriods. The poor doctor that was delivering tigers peds was arrested and is in prison.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
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