Tiger, Daly and a great start
CHASKA - The PGA Championship is picking up right where the Bridgestone Invitational left off.
Tiger Woods checked in at 5-under par Thursday at Hazeltine National Golf Club and stands alone atop the leaderboard after the first round of play. Padraig Harrington is alone in second at 4 under.
Woods and Harrington played in the final group last week. Woods rallied to win in the final round after Harrington fell apart with a triple bogey on the 16th hole at Firestone Country Club.
The two were paired up again for Thursday's first round along with Rich Beem, who finished at 1 under.
"Today was a nice, pleasant round of golf," said Harrington, who called Thursday's round relaxing. "And it's better to keep it that way. That gets the best results and it shows today for all of us...You know the great thing is if you're playing with Tiger Woods you're doing well."
Woods started on the back nine at Hazeltine Thursday morning and was two-under after nine holes with birdies on the par-4 13th and the monster 15th hole: a 642-yard par 5. He later made lengthy back-to-back birdie putts on the second and third holes to go four under.
The final birdie of Woods' bogey-free round came on the par-5 seventh hole.
Woods downplayed the significance of playing with Harrington to open the season's final major.
"The situation is not the same," Woods said. "This is just the first round. You're trying to play yourself into that position where we were last Sunday."
Woods' 67 on Thursday equals his fourth round score at Hazeltine in 2002 when he finished second behind Beem. Woods is a five-time PGA Champion with victories coming 1999, 2000, 2006 and 2007. He did not play last year due to injury.
"Today I was very consistent," Woods said. "I played really well today. I hit just a bunch of good shots and this round could have been really low. I missed a bunch of putts out there. So it was just a very positive start."
Vijay Singh and David Toms are among a group of six players tied for third at 3 under. Singh's 69 was his first under par round at the PGA since 2005.
John Daly's struggles with weight and alcohol have endeared him to many fans as a folk hero of modern golf.
He may not have the game today that won him the 1991 PGA Championship as rookie, but his presence as one of the longest hitters draws a crowd and Thursday was no exception.
Wearing purple pants with a flamboyant design, the newly-slim Daly entertained the gallery with a few great shots.
"That's John Daly?" a spectator in the gallery asked. "That doesn't look anything like him - he's about 40 pounds lighter and looks about 20 years older. But that's definitely him right there. You can tell because of the cigarette in his hand."
On the sixth hole, Daly sprayed his tee shot 20 yards off the fairway and into some trees. As he approached the shot, he pinched the bridge of his nose with his fingers as if he was trying to nurse a migraine headache.
Instead of punching out, Daly gambled and won. He barely flopped a 140-yard shot over the trees and onto the green to make par.
On the seventh, Daly moved back to 2 over after making a 40-foot eagle putt on the 572-yard par 5.
But a double bogey on the par-3 eighth, Daly's 17th hole, led to a 6 over finish.
Much of the gallery that followed Daly Thursday headed for the exits after that knock around three-putt.
Daly soon followed, withdrawing from the Championship citing a back injury.