Tiger Woods struggles as Brooks Koepka coasts clear in US PGA

Posted Thursday, 16 May 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Tiger Woods cut a frustrated figure as the magic of the Masters eluded him on day one of the 101st US PGA Championship.Woods was playing for the first time since winning that remarkable 15th major title at Augusta, but he struggled on the infamous Bethpage Black course on Long Island and ended with a two-over-par round of 70. Woods' woes, not helped by a cold putter, were a far cry from playing partner Brooks Koepka, the defending champion, who stormed to a seven-under 63 -- one off the all-time major record set by Branden Grace in the Open at Royal Birkdale in 2017 -- to set a searing pace. Koepka has won three of his last seven majors and beat Woods to the PGA title last year before finishing second as the former world No.1 clinched his fifth Green Jacket last month. While Koepka coasted, Woods' round began in ignominious fashion with a double bogey courtesy of short-game issues after starting at the 10th.The 43-year-old steadied the ship and picked up a birdie on the 15th, his sixth, before another double bogey via the sand on the 17th took him to the turn in three-over 38.A brace of birdies starting the back nine and then an eagle three at the signature par-five fourth to get to one under gave the impression Woods had finally shaken off the rust after only playing nine holes in practice this week.But the world No.6, who still has to manage his back after spinal fusion surgery in April 2017, dropped a shot at the fifth and two more at the seventh and eighth, his 16th and 17th, throwing his head back in annoyance as another makeable putt stayed out.READ: Woods' Masters win has Nicklaus "shaking in my boots"READ: 'It's surreal,' says Woods of 15th major'Motivation'The powerful Koepka was on cruise control alongside the spluttering Woods, continuing where he left off on Long Island after winning the US Open at Shinnecock Hills last June.Armed with a potent putter, he picked up three birdies on the front nine and three more coming home for a fuss-free round."I'm very pleased, the funny thing is it could have been a lot lower," Koepka told Sky Sports. "I'm not going to dwell on that, don't get me wrong. I putted great and I'm excited for the rest of the week. I've got the motivation to get to number four. I'm just trying to defend."The third member of the star trio was Italy's Francesco Molinari, who held off a charging Woods to win the Open at Carnoustie last year before seeing his hopes of repeating the feat at Augusta sink in the water of Rae's Creek in front of the short 12th on the final day. But Molinari also struggled to keep up with Koepka and matched Woods' 72.However, his illustrious Ryder Cup partner Tommy Fleetwood -- the pair were nicknamed MoliWood in Paris -- carded a three-under 67 to lead the chasing pack behind the American.

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