US PGA: Change of shirt helps keep Woods in the hunt at Bellerive

Tiger Woods walks off the 12th tee during the first round of the US PGA Championship in baking hot St Louis (Picture: PA).
Tiger Woods walks off the 12th tee during the first round of the US PGA Championship in baking hot St Louis (Picture: PA).
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A change of shirt paid dividends for Tiger Woods as he recovered from a nightmare start to his opening round of the 100th US PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club.

Woods, who is seeking a 15th major title and a first since 2008, was among the early starters hoping to make a flying start in baking temperatures in St Louis, only to drop three shots in his first two holes.

But after changing his shirt in a players’ bathroom between the 11th green and 12th tee, Woods fought back to card a level-par 70 to lie five shots off the clubhouse lead held by fellow American Rickie Fowler.

Asked about his change of shirt, Woods added: “I was going to change before the start but there wasn’t a place to change on the 10th tee so I waited until there was a toilet.

“I sweat a lot in the summer and lose a bunch of weight; I’ve tried everything and just sweat a lot.”

Fowler carded six birdies and a solitary bogey in a 65 which gave him a two-shot lead over playing partner Ian Poulter, former world number one Jason Day, Austin Cook and Pat Perez.

Defending champion Justin Thomas had been three under after six holes before two bogeys on the inward nine meant he had to settle for a 69, while Rory McIlroy parred his last nine holes in succession in his 70.

McIlroy says he is braced for a “crazy” second round after experiencing a bout of Tiger-mania in St Louis.

The marquee group of McIlroy, Woods and Thomas drew massive galleries for an 0823 tee time on Thursday morning

And the crowd is likely to be even bigger when the star trio begin their second rounds shortly before 2pm today.

“It was pretty cool to be out there 8:30 in the morning and have an atmosphere like that,” McIlroy said. “JT and I were saying it’s going to get a little crazy tomorrow afternoon. So we’re looking forward to that.”