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NOTES

Woods Isn't a Straight Shooter

August 15, 2003|Thomas Bonk and Chris Dufresne | Times Staff Writers

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Tiger Woods' five-bogey, one-birdie opening round of 74 at Oak Hill Country Club puts him eight shots off the lead. And it may put him in a difficult position.

Woods has eight major titles among his 38 PGA Tour victories, but he has never won when he shot more than a 72 in the first round.

Woods, who hit only five of 14 fairways, had trouble keeping the ball in the right place.

"I just didn't drive very well and put myself under a lot of pressure because of it," he said. "It didn't matter what club I hit off the tee, I couldn't keep the ball in play."

Woods started his round at the 10th and birdied his fourth hole, the par-five 13th, but that was his highlight. He had 12 pars and five bogeys.

Woods has made the cut 108 consecutive times and figures to score better today, but he begins play tied for 58th. The PGA Championship cut will be the low 60 scores, plus ties.

Woods, who switched from his Nike prototype driver to his old Titleist driver two weeks ago, said he was frustrated he didn't hit the ball straighter.

"I've just got to go out there and drive the ball better than I did and then give myself some chances."

*

Robert Allenby, using a four-iron, scored a hole in one on the 226-yard, par-three 11th. It was the first ace at the PGA since David Toms, Nick Faldo and Scott Hoch all had holes in one in 2001 at the Atlantic Athletic Club.

*

First-round co-leader Phil Mickelson's explanation for why he didn't come into the media tent: "I finished at 1:10. That is 35 to 40 minutes ago and I have not eaten since 6 o'clock. I just played a five-hour round, mentally drained, physically drained, hungry and I think it is more important that I maintain my physical strength, mental strength and have a break than it is to accommodate everyone here."

*

Kenny Perry, paired with Mickelson on Thursday, said he's amazed that the left-hander is criticized for not having won a major.

"That blows my mind," Perry said of Mickelson. "... He is so talented, you know, he is just as good as Tiger. I have only played a couple of times with Tiger and I have only played a few times with Phil, but that guy has got some unbelievable shots around the green."

Perry, in fact, thinks Mickelson may be on the verge of a major outburst.

"I think he can explode and win a bunch of them," said Perry, a three-time winner this year. "I don't think he has to win this first one.

"It was quite a show, I enjoyed watching it and I guess I got a little caught up more in his game than I got in my own."

Perry shot a 75, while Mickelson a 66 to share the first-round lead.

*

Jim Furyk, the U.S. Open champion, shot a two-over 72 and had a word about the rough: "Nasty."

Said Furyk: "Most of the time, it is just pitching out and wedging. And around the greens, it's a little bit of pot luck the way the grass is lying down sideways. You never know what is going to happen there."

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