Tiger Woods off to solid start (9 a.m. update)

A glimmer of frustration showed on Tiger Woods’ face.

The world’s top-ranked golfer had just he missed his second consecutive birdie chance at the PGA Championship, pulling his putt left at No. 3. But he couldn’t be too upset.

Woods was playing well enough to reach two-under through 12 holes of the first round, just two strokes off the lead at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y.

Jim Furyk and David Hearn of Canada stood atop the leaderboard at four-under. The scores were a little surprising on a course that has featured tight landing areas and greens that are difficult to read. Some players predicted more of a challenge on Thursday.

“It's one of the toughest courses we ever play in a major championship,” Tom Watson said on Wednesday.

The likes of Robert Garrigus, Paul Casey, Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar were also within a couple of strokes of the leaders.

Blast from the the past (7 a.m. update)

The PGA Championship will have a nostalgic feel as golfers tee off for the first round at Oak Hill Country Club in New York on Thursday morning.

Tom Watson was scheduled to start at 9:35 a.m. PDT, making his first appearance at the championship since he played it at Oak Hill in 2003. But don’t expect him to feel all warm and cuddly about it.

“This course gets my goat every time,” he said. “I don’t play this course very well.”

Watson -- who will serve as the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup team captain -- shot a pair of 75s and missed the cut last time around. He can commiserate with players who have talked about the challenges of the next few days.

“It’s one of the toughest courses we ever play in a major championship,” he said. “This course has held the U.S. Open, the PGA, the Senior PGA and the U.S. Amateur.”

There will be a few differences with Oak Hill compared with what Watson might remember. PGA executive Kerry Haigh said the greens at Nos. 5, 6 and 15 have been softened up and the mowing patterns have changed.

Gone is the step-cut between the fairway and the rough. The PGA has switched to a graduated cut that includes an intermediate length. Phil Mickelson called it “one of the best setups I’ve ever seen.”

Even Watson has been impressed.

“The fairways are absolutely perfect. The greens are perfect,” he said. “The condition of the golf course is very consistent.”

As in, consistently tough.

Tiger Woods has a 5:35 a.m. PDT tee time. Rory McIlroy was scheduled to tee off at 10:25 a.m. PDT, and Phil Mickelson at 10:45 am.

Check back throughout the day for updates.


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