Tiger Woods opens PGA Championship with 7-over 77; Steve Stricker leads after 63

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — The excuse for his poor showing at last week's tournament was he was hitting the ball too flush. When this event began, Tiger Woods said he was too mechanical.

Let's try lost.

Woods shot 7-over 77 at the PGA Championship on Thursday, his worst first round in a major, after a start that was good enough to make his fans believe he would contend. As it stands, Woods, tied for 129th, will have to scramble to make the cut today.

"I'm not down. I'm really angry right now," Woods said, his hands gripping the lectern he stood behind after his round. "There's a lot of words I could use beyond that."

Woods opened with three birdies in five holes at the Atlanta Athletic Club and had his name high on the leaderboard, next to Steve Stricker, who went on to tie a major championship record with 7-under 63 for the lead.

Woods was focused on what he called "mechanical thoughts," the swing changes he and coach Sean Foley have been working on. For reasons he didn't explain, Woods said he then shifted his focus to playing the way he used to. He proceeded to play the next 13 holes in 10 over.

"I thought, 'I can let it go' and play by instinct and feel," he said. "And it just screwed up my whole round. I'm not at that point where I can do that yet."

He can't stop spraying his drives, his short game isn't good enough to save him — especially from greenside bunkers — and he isn't making putts.

His round — his highest in a major since 81 in wind and rain at Muirfield in Round 3 of the 2002 British Open — began to unravel on the brutal 265-yard par-3 15th hole, his sixth of the day (he started on No. 10).

He was 3 under at that point. Then a 4-iron shot meant to land on the front of the green found the big water hazard. He pitched short and two putted for double-bogey 5.

Woods bogeyed the 16th and double bogeyed 18 after having been in two bunkers on each hole. He made the turn at 2 over.

On his second nine, he made double-bogey 6 on No. 6, hitting out of a bunker into another water hazard. Woods finished with a bogey on No. 9, again having been in a fairway bunker and a greenside bunker.

Woods, playing in his second straight tournament after a three-month injury layoff, is in danger of being finished for the season. He is 129th on the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup playoffs points list, and he needs to get into the top 125 to make the playoffs, which start in two weeks.

He isn't scheduled to play next week.

Through Sunday, Atlanta Athletic Club, Johns Creek (Ga.). Today on TV: 1, TNT.

Weather: xxxxxxxxxx

. Fast facts

Leaderboard

Steve Stricker 63 -7

Jerry Kelly 65 -5

Shaun Micheel 66 -4

Scott Verplank 67 -3

Notables

Rory McIlroy 70 E

Charl Schwartzel 71 +1

Phil Mickelson 71 +1

Martin Kaymer 72 +2

Tiger Woods 77 +7

Darren Clarke 78 +8

.FAST FACTS

The top four on the leaderboard Steve Stricker, Jerry Kelly, Shaun Micheel and Scott Verplank — are Americans. The United States hasn't had a winner in the past six majors.

• Defending champion Martin Kaymer shot 2-over 72.

Jerry Pate, 57 and playing in only his second major in 20 years, shot 77. He is in on a special exemption because he won his only major, the 1976 U.S. Open, at the Atlantic Athletic Club.

. FAST FACTS

PGA Championship

Purse: xxx

Xxxx

Field: xx players (xx amateurs)

Defending champion: xxxxxxx.

Cut: xxx

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Website: xxxxxxxxxx

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Tiger Woods opens PGA Championship with 7-over 77; Steve Stricker leads after 63 08/12/11 [Last modified: Friday, August 12, 2011 12:44am]

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