The hot Thursday morning started in spectacular fashion at the Atlanta Athletic Club. A rejuvenating legend, Tiger Woods was in competition with a rising talent Steve Stricker. All seemed to be going well with pundits predicting blockbuster thrillers on the course at the US PGA Championship but sadly the hype was short lived.
Although, Stricker and Woods started off their trail immaculately, and were soon enough tied at the top, each at three under par, their performance grew apart with time. Stricker’s form grew better with time, like old wine. On the other hand, Woods continued with his degenerative form after a brilliant start, disappointing the gallery and the few fans who still showed faith in him.
At the start both Stricker and Woods boasted three birdies however change came after half an hour. It was like watching two missiles being fired in opposite directions. Stricker nearly broke the record with his amazing 63 while Woods made a personal-worst of 77 in a major’s first round.
When Woods tee splashed wet in the pond at the 15th hole even the gallery was lost for words of how to praise the former world number one. On the other end of the golf course Stricker was gearing to wrap up his day, aiming to win the first major championship of his career.
Before the proceedings of round 2 begin, Stricker stands at a record-tying 63 with a two-stroke lead over Jerry Kelly. Shaun Micheel follows him with a 66 while Scott Verplank is breathing down his neck with 67.
Australian John Senden, is tied at the 5th spot with a 68, followed by countrymen Adam Scott at 69 and Jason Day at 71. Woods is no doubt worst from the lot with his 77. He is now 14 strokes behind Stricker and needs to gain 11 strokes if he still wishes to play in the 2nd round.
Stricker commented in a press release about his performance and expectations saying, “'I came to the course really not expecting too much.” He continued, “I really hadn't made too many birdies in the three previous practice rounds.”
The 44-year-old player, Stricker added, “You know, I don't take a lot of stock in those practice rounds, really. But I really felt like I was in trouble coming into this tournament.'”
As the round 2 proceeds, Stricker will not only try to improve his lead but have another go for the record. His record of 63 has previously been shot 25 times. More interestingly it has been shot by 23 different players. Only Vijay Singh and Greg Norman have shot it twice.
Analysts have already predicted that this year’s trophy is expected to be showcased on Stricker’s mantelpiece. Stricker has shown superb form in recent days making it a deserved victory for him.