Tiger Woods starts 3 over in first 2 holes, finishes with 70

ST. LOUIS -- Poor starts have been an issue at times for Tiger Woods, and he overcame a massively bad one Thursday at Bellerive Country Club to shoot even-par 70 in the first round of the PGA Championship.

Starting on the back nine, Woods opened at the par-4 10th with a bogey, then hit a poor second shot into the water at the 11th, leading to a double-bogey and a 3-over-par.

Getting back to even par was especially impressive, given that Rory McIlroy also shot 70 and the other player in the group, defending champion Justin Thomas, had 69.

Rickie Fowler shot 5-under-par 65 and was leading after the morning wave.

"I was able to grind out a score today," Woods said. "It kept me in the golf tournament. I could have easily gone the other way, being 3 over through two. A lot of things could happen. Not a lot of them were positive, but I hung in there and turned it around."

The start was similar to his beginning at the U.S. Open, where he triple-bogeyed the first hole and was 4 over through two. He never recovered, and ended up missing the cut.

On Thursday, Woods birdied the 12th hole, his third. After a bogey at the 16th, he made a good par save at the par-5 17th from a bunker, and got things turned around with a nice 7-iron approach to the 18th green from 185 yards that set up a 4-foot birdie putt.

He also birdied the first and eighth holes and was much better during his closing nine holes, hitting 6-of-7 fairways and 7-of-9 greens.

"I hit a couple of good shots out there today early on, I was just hanging on," Woods said. "If I could just give myself a few putts at it, I could turn this thing around. I was putting nice. I made a couple of good putts. It was nice to kind of turn the tide going to that back nine."

Aside from last week's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational -- where he opened with a 66 -- Woods has struggled in opening rounds for a good part of the year. He has not been in the top 10 after the first round since the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March.

At The Open three weeks ago, Woods also opened with a score of even-par 70.

This is Woods' 14th tournament of 2018 and he is playing the last of the four major championships for the first time since 2015, when he missed the cut at Whistling Straits.

Due to heavy rains Tuesday and a reduced practice schedule, Woods never saw holes six through nine on the Bellerive course until Thursday. He reported he had taken ice baths on Monday to deal with swelling, although he showed no physical issues during the opening round.

"The main thing about major championships is to make sure you have enough energy," Woods said. "This is a long run. These are marathons. There are four long days. They're slow rounds. They're not quick. Certainly not under these conditions. And with the setup, the rounds are going to be slow."