Woods beats bushes as tough Oak Hill cuts big three down to size

THE BALTIMORE SUN

ROCHESTER, N.Y. - NASCAR came to the 85th PGA Championship yesterday at Oak Hill, resulting in a nasty pileup involving the opening round's featured threesome. Fortunately, the only thing shattered were egos.

The group of two-time champion Tiger Woods, 2001 champion David Toms and defending champion Rich Beem shot a collective 21-over par. Woods finished at 4-over 74, Toms shot a 75 and Beem blew up with an 82.

They combined for only three birdies the entire round. Toms, who started the round with double bogeys on his first two holes, made two and Woods made one. Beem had three double bogeys and six bogeys.

"It's a little tougher to get going when everyone's struggling," Toms said. "This golf course is hard and none of us were playing very good. Tiger was hanging around for a while but still wasn't playing very good. I was playing bad and Rich was all over the place. We weren't a whole lot of fun to watch, that's for sure."

Woods, who recently switched back to his old Titleist driver, had trouble off the tee. Despite using the driver only three times during the round, he hit only nine of 14 fairways and missed the green three times on the four par-3s. He missed five straight fairways in one stretch.

"I just didn't drive very well and put myself under a lot of pressure because of it," Woods, who declined to talk directly with the media, said in an interview with a PGA Tour press liaison. "It didn't matter what club I hit off the tee; I couldn't keep [the ball] in play."

It marked the third time this year that Woods failed to break par in the opening round of a major championship. He shot a 4-over 76 to open the Masters and a 2-over 73 in the British Open. He has never won a professional tournament after shooting 72 or worse in the opening round.

"Tomorrow is a new day," said Woods, who seeks to break a run of five straight major championships without a win. "Just go out there tomorrow and drive the ball better than I did today and then give myself some chances."

While Woods spoke to the media through an intermediary, Beem didn't speak at all. After signing his scorecard, he went to the locker room to collect some belongings and then left the course immediately.

Strong start for Funk

Fred Funk didn't take the lead after the first round yesterday, as he did last year in the PGA Championship at Hazeltine, but after getting to 3-under par through 14 and finishing with a tough par for a 1-under 69, the former Maryland golf coach was happy to be in contention again.

"It was a nice break from the past month of torturing myself," said Funk, who has struggled recently.

He got within one shot of first-round co-leaders Phil Mickelson and Rodney Pampling with birdies on three of the first holes and, after making a bogey on the par-4 10th, climbed back to 3-under with a birdie on the par-4 14th. He made bogeys on two of the next threes, but got up and down for par on 18.

Chip shots

Woodholme assistant pro Wayne DeFrancesco finished with a 9-over 79. "I made a nice up-and-down [for par] on 18 to break 80, so that was a nice consolation," DeFrancesco said. ... Colin Montgomerie shot an 82, the highest score he has ever recorded in a U.S. tournament.

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