The legend of "care for the injured golfer" brought another epic story on Thursday when Justin Rose opened his campaign in the 100th USPGA Championship with a brave 67.
Barely able to walk around the field on Tuesday and still struggling on the eve of the event, he headed for the tee at 1.30 p. M. Having never achieved a complete hit in practice.
However, deftly handling his back problem and playing inside himself, the 38-year-old was able to negotiate his way to a three under par score that left him with Ian Poulter and only three strokes away from the advantage of a American of great successes. Gary Woodland.
Justin Rose of England finished in three under despite the injury after the first round of the USPGA
Rose tied with Ian Poulter, who continued his impressive form with a first round 67
The American Gary Woodland, who has never registered a top 10 in a major, led after a superb 64
Rickie Fowler, the almost man in the big leagues in recent years with eight top-five finishes, is on course to have another chance to finally get a win after a 65, while South African man Brandon Stone shot 66.
After only two holes in his opening round, Tiger Woods already had three over par and mumbled oaths of self-deprecation while disappearing into a portable toilet.
Heaven knows what happened during that quiet moment for him, but he came out dressed in a new shirt and played like a new man.
No Superman – the costume change was not that dramatic – but certainly brave enough to shoot three under par for his next 16 holes and return to play in the tournament with a level 70 pair.
A change of shirt paid dividends for Tiger Woods while recovering from a nightmare start
Woods changed his shirt soaked in a portable toilet between tee 11 green and 12
Along with Tiger, both on the field and on the leaderboard was Rory McIlroy, but while Woods was justly proud of his recovery efforts, the Northern Irishman had the absent-minded air of a man who had seen the possibility of slipping away. That feeling could only have grown during the afternoon when World No. 1 Dustin Johnson took advantage of the mild conditions with a 67 and the Spanish slugger Jon Rahm shot 68.
McIlroy did not take advantage despite seeing a pair of early birdie putts in the 12-foot range finding the bottom of the hole. Using anti-inflammatory tape due to a little pain in the forearm, he finished with nine consecutive pairs and did not birdie either of the pair par 5.
"To be honest, I do not think it was that easy," he said. "Of course, I would like to take advantage of both par-5's and there were some putts that did not come in. But it was important to maintain patience."
Woods fought to tie at a level 70 to be six shots behind the leader in San Luis
Northern Ireland Rory McIlroy had the absent-minded look of a man who had seen an opportunity to escape
Although the pair started at 8.23 am along with defending champion Justin Thomas, who shot at 69, there were amazing scenes to greet them on their first hole, the tenth.
This was the first round of Tiger tournaments in Gateway City and clearly nobody wanted to lose it. Looking down the street, you would have thought it was a Ryder Cup instead of the opening skirmishes in the fourth special.
During two holes, Woods played as he used to do in the Ryder Cup, when he started playing bogey-double bogey. Then came the bathroom break and the change of clothes and performance.
Woods was helped by the kind of scandalous pair in the 15th that gives each player a boost. A unit hitched in the trees was followed by a suffocated blow of iron. He was still in the trees with 68 yards left to play for his third shot, but he played immaculately at 3 feet and walked up to the 16th tee marking the same par four as McIlroy, who had played the hole wonderfully. No wonder McIlroy gave Tiger a bit of happy sadness.
Then he continued, the return from the depths. "I told myself to keep chirping," Woods said. "It seemed like anything could happen to the way I played the first two holes, but I did enough at the end to stay on it."
The Northern Irishman could not build on a pair of early birdies in the first round
Poulter flew to his home in Orlando after his disappointing last round at Firestone on Sunday, when a 74 placed him in second place after 54 holes to tie for tenth.
He thought that three nights in his own bed for the first time since May 20 would be more beneficial than practicing here and he proved it, since his rich vein of constant form continued.
In his last 13 events, Poulter has won once, he has only lost a cut midway and finished outside the top 30 in just one other event to move to the top of an automatic Ryder Cup stand. "I have two tournaments left with respect to the Ryder Cup and, of course, I want to be there," he said.
He will do it, either by his own efforts or by a wild card, like his playmate, Fowler. The Californian was on the 18th green at this event last year to see his great friend Thomas win, just as he was when Jordan Spieth won his Major Leagues.
Fowler is one of the nicest men in the game, and no one would be jealous if this was his time.