Originally created 08/15/98

Major lessons for Woods at PGA



REDMOND, Wash. -- Tiger Woods was still on the practice green when his lead evaporated today in the PGA Championship.

Vijay Singh made five birdies on the front side to shoot a 30 and take temporary possession of the lead under ideal conditions at Sahalee Country Club.

Woods, who shot a 66 on Thursday, was still an hour away from teeing off in the second round when Singh sank a birdie putt on the ninth hole to move to 5-under for the tournament, a stroke ahead of Woods. Sing was still at 5-under through 15 holes.

Once he started play, Woods had a good chance to get to 5-under himself but missed a 5-footer for birdie on the second hole to remain a shot back.

Another stroke back was Colin Montgomerie, who had a shot at matching the course record Woods set the day before but had to settle for a 67 after making bogey on the 18th hole from the rough.

Steve Elkington, the 1995 champion, was at 2-under-138 after his second straight 69.

Woods showed Thursday he learned that one round doesn't make a tournament, refusing to get too excited even after shooting 66 to take a two-stroke lead over eight others after the first round.

With perfect weather continuing today and birdies beginning to come in bunches at tree-lined Sahalee, it appeared Woods had the right attitude.

"I'm not going to put any more pressure on myself because I am near the lead right now," Woods said. "With three days to go, it's an eternity. You just have to go out there and hold your own for three more days."

Woods did more than hold his own on opening day under the towering trees. With the driver stuck firmly in his bag, he turned to his putter to sink six putts of 15 feet or longer.

By his own admission, it wasn't a great ball-striking day. But with only 27 putts needed to navigate the slick greens of Sahalee, the irons can be a little off.

After a bogey on the first hole and an adventurous iron shot on the second, it seemed almost easy for Woods, who capped his round with a 35-foot downhiller for birdie on the par-3 17th.

Not far from his mind where the lessons learned at last month's British Open, where after leading with a 65 in the first round he followed with a 77.

"I know how difficult it is to win a major," Woods said. "At Augusta I was fortunate enough to play 63 straight holes where my game was pretty much right on. And it was -- trust me -- a lot of fun. But it has taught me how difficult it is to win."

On a day when several players made a run at the lead, only to fall back on the back nine, Woods posted his score before many in the 150-player field had even teed off.

By the time they struggled in, there were eight golfers at 68, including Glen Day, who was 5-under at one point before taking a double bogey on the par-4 15th.

"They don't pay you for leading on Thursday," Day said.

Among those clustered two shots back was Billy Andrade, the ninth alternate who got in only after Steve Jones withdrew following the sudden death of a close friend. Also at 68 was Paul Azinger and Craig Stadler, who was at 3-under before three-putting the final hole.

Masters and British Open winner Mark O'Meara, trying to become the first to win three majors since Ben Hogan 45 years ago, bogeyed two of the first three holes before recovering for a 69 that left him three back.

"I kept myself in the ball game," O'Meara said. "I saw on the leaderboard that Tiger shot 4-under and had a super round. But I expected him to play well."

With just the hint of a breeze wafting through the firs and cedars that line the fairways of the 6,906-yard course, conditions couldn't have been any better.

"Since the greens are so perfect, you just need to set the ball on the line," Woods said. "It's going to go in the hole and you start walking."

However, not everyone thrived.

John Daly took a triple-bogey 7 on the final hole to shoot 80, while David Duval and U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen both had 76s.

Woods, who has won only once in the United States this year, didn't look like much like a contender when he pushed a 2-iron off the first tee into the right rough, then hacked an 8-iron out to make bogey.

He looked even shakier after pulling out a 3-iron from 220 yards on the par-5 second hole and aiming it for the center of the green. Instead, he hit it thin and had to beg for it to clear a pond that guards the right side of the green.

"Go, Go," Woods yelled at the ball, saying later, "I was sure it was wet."

Instead, it landed on the fringe, and he chipped to 2 feet for a birdie, the first of seven on the day.

The break came early, but it was the kind of break Woods didn't get when he finished a stroke out of a playoff in the British Open last month. It's the kind of break he'll need to win the second major title of his career at 22.

"I'm very pleased with the way I've played in the majors this year. Unfortunately, I haven't won one yet, but I've been right there," Woods said. "And that's all you can ask for, just be consistent and give yourself a chance. It's just a matter of time before the breaks start falling your way."