Tiger shares lead with Dunlap at PGA

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Tiger Woods did what he had to do, while Scott Dunlap did what he had never done before.
Despite a balky putter that cost him several birdie opportunities, Woods shot a 6-under-par 66 in today’s opening round of the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club.
As good as that was, it wasn’t good enough to get past Dunlap, whose resume includes victories in Peru, Argentina, South Africa and Canada — but none on the PGA Tour.
Dunlap eagled the second hole by holing a 30-yard sand wedge and didn’t back off after that, making five birdies for his own 66 to grab a share of the lead. He said worrying about Woods would be a waste of time.
“I mean, it is day one. I mean, he has won the last two majors by 23 shots. I mean, if he is going to do it, he is going to do it,” Dunlap said. “There’s no stopping him.”
The 37-year-old Pittsburgh native had never gone lower in a major championship than the 68 he shot in the opening round of the British Open last month. He followed that with a 78 and missed the cut.
In his only previous appearance in a PGA Championship, Dunlap tied for 68th place last year at Medinah, finishing 21 shots behind Woods’ winning score. He never shot lower than 71 and closed with an 80.
Dunlap broke a tie with Woods when he blasted out of a bunker to 3 feet on the closing hole and rolled in a birdie putt.
Woods, the defending champion and overwhelming favorite to win his third major title of the year, put together four birdies in a row and five in a six-hole span to pull even with Dunlap’s quick start.
The winner of three of the last four majors — including the U.S. Open by 15 shots and the British Open by eight strokes — Woods parred the next six holes while continually missing birdie putts.
Finally, at the closing hole he nearly holed a sand shot for an eagle — the ball caught most of the hole before glancing out — and hit the 3-footer coming back for birdie.
“I hit the putts exactly where I wanted to,” said Woods, who added that he’d take three more rounds of 66. “I definitely left a few out there. But then again, I also made some good putts for par.”
Jack Nicklaus, one of Woods’ playing partners, came away amazed.
“He shot the easiest 66 today, and he missed half a dozen opportunities,” Nicklaus said. “Phenomenal control, phenomenal concentration. That was a real treat to watch today.”
Dunlap made the elite field of the sport’s fourth major championship because he ranks in the top 70 in earnings this season.
After his eagle, Dunlap had a bogey and two birdies on the next three holes. Birdies at the ninth and 10th holes got him to 5 under before he took sole possession of the lead with his closing birdie.
With just over half the field in the clubhouse, Woods and Dunlap held a two-shot lead over Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland, who had a 68. Journeyman Fred Funk and England’s Edward Fryatt — who made the field when Steve Elkington withdrew because of an injury — were another shot back at 69. Davis Love III, winner of the 1997 PGA, was at 3-under through 13 holes.
Woods was playing with Masters champion Vijay Singh and Nicklaus, who struggled with his game and his emotions following his mother’s death on Wednesday. A huge gallery cheered loudly — even louder than for Woods — when the players were introduced on the first tee.
Woods birdied the second hole despite pulling his drive into the left rough and finding a bunker.
He gave that shot back at the par-4 fifth when he drove into the right rough and bunkered his second, then failed to get up and down.
On the 597-yard seventh hole –which has alternate fairways where players can choose how much risk they want to take — Woods’ drive covered 331 yards and stopped a foot short of going through the “shortcut” fairway to the left. He hit his iron approach to 35 feet and two-putted for birdie.
Woods birdied the next two holes, hitting a 20-footer at the par-3 eighth and then rolling in a downhill 12-footer for another birdie at No. 9. The crowd lined the gallery ropes all the way back to the tee and was eight rows deep around the green.
Playing in the same group with Woods, Nicklaus was in trouble throughout his first nine holes on the course he designed. He shot a 77, as did Singh.
Nicklaus planned to fly to Columbus, Ohio, after the round to be with family before returning for Friday afternoon’s round.
After the early groups got a break from the oppressive heat and humidity that had hung over the course in the days leading up to the tournament, the temperatures rose to the 90s and the humidity soared in the afternoon.