FARMINGDALE, NY — Tiger Woods needed a spark after making two double bogeys and shooting a 3-over 38 in his first nine holes on Thursday at the PGA Championship. He got it in the form of a 3-3-3-3 start to his second nine (the front nine of the course), the last of which was an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole.
After a 298-yard drive at the fourth, Woods hit his second shot 220 yards and left himself a 31-footer coming back to the hole. Improbably, he canned it for the three and got back into red numbers (-1) on the day and the week.
At the time that put him four back of playing partner and leader of the tournament Brooks Koepka and moved Big Cat into the top 10 on the leaderboard. The remarkable part is that at the turn, Woods was outside the top 50 on the board. That’s what four straight threes will do for you.
The eagle was Woods’ fourth of the season and his first at a PGA Championship in nearly two decades. He needed it, too, after those two doubles to start the festivities on Thursday.
It’s been a tale of two majors for Woods at Bethpage. In 2002, when he went on to win, Tiger fired a 3-under 67 over the first 18 holes. In 2009, when he ended up in the top 10, Woods shot a 4-over 74 in nasty weather. Something in between those numbers (but closer to the first) would be a win for Woods on a day when Bethpage, as its creator intended, “is showing plenty teeth.”