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Tiger Woods Points: Bounce back to tough first nine right the ship at 2018 PGA Championship

ST. LOUIS – Tiger Woods made a balanced 70 in the first round of the 2018 PGA Championship in Bellerive, and no one really knows how he did it. Woods started on the tenth hole and shot a slightly wondrous 2-over-37 on the back nine of the course (more on that in a minute). He followed that up with a solid 33 on the front nine for the level 70.

The first holes of Woods were as headstrong as he was all season. His distances were off. He had turned away from the tea. He was small, if he should have been long. He looked honestly lost.

After playing his first two holes in 3 over including a beach ball, Woods stepped into a portable bathroom and changed shirts. I'm still not sure if that's because he's soaked the other one already or because he's been trying to get the stench of a bogey double bogey start on his own.

Whatever it was, it actually seemed to work for a moment. Game Partner Rory McIlroy repaired the back of Wood's neckline, and Woods hit two terrific punches after changing the wardrobe, did a birdie, and made only a bogey the rest of the day. It was not without stress.

Woods played the Par-4 1

5th in about as Tiger as possible. A badly torn drive led to a second shot of a tree leaving it 68 yards from the hole. Woods picked up a front pin, managed to climb over the leading edge and somehow parried. It was a microcosm of its time. He scored and you were not exactly sure how or why he scored based on how he beat the golf ball.

I went the first nine with Woods, McIlroy and Justin Thomas and if you had at some point told me that McIlroy, who drives from right to left and pulls the cord with his short irons, does not would have shot better than Woods, I would bet my flight home (and lose). Both shot 70.

"I just hanged myself," Woods said. "I tried to throw it away, got used to it and tried to get over Par at the turn maybe 1 and was at the end of 2 where it was, just trying to snap it off, a par 5 and a pair of short par 4s stay on the front nine, just hang in there. "

Woods made Birdie on the 18th hole (his ninth of the day), who seemed to start his jump. He went on to make two more birdies and get back to Clubhouse Five back from Leader Rickie Fowler after the morning wave ended. It's not a premium position, but considering how much he pushed early, it probably feels like he's leading!

Woods has a long way to go to make the cut, but Thursday was a win after finishing 73-73 last weekend at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational. It might not lead to a actual victory, but Tiger did what he might do better than anyone in golf history and conjured a supernatural grind that led to a reasonably decent score.

"I could easily have gone the other way, being 3 by two," Woods said. "Many things could happen, not many of them were positive, but I hung in it and turned it around."

At one point of this 15th hole – the one with the miracle – Wood grabbed his bag when many fans held their phones over their heads and grinned as if the Budweiser had already hit hard.

From far above the green I could not see what he was attacking, but then he held up a big white towel and dried himself off. A marshal behind me told a fan, "See the towel, he's the one swinging the towel." The metaphor was almost too easy. At the time it felt more like a white flag. I had already written the article in my head!

Nobody would have blamed him if it had been after the great season. At 3 over two holes and a miserably hot St. Louis day before him, the eject button would have been easy to hit.

I briefly forgot that this is Tiger Woods. He would play the remainder of his round in 2 under. There are no white flags. There is only the next shot.

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