Woods struggles as Koepka shores clear in US PGA

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Woods played for the first time since winning that remarkable 15th major title with Augusta, but he struggled on the infamous Bethpage Black course on Long Island and ended up with a two- over-par round of 70.

Woods' misery, not helped by a cold putter, was a far cry from playing partner Brooks Koepka, the defending champion, who stormed to a seven-under-63 – one of the all-time grand record set by Branden Grace in the Open at Royal Birkdale in 2017 – to establish a high pace.

Koepka won three of his last seven majors and defeated Woods in the PGA title last year before finishing second when former World Number 1 captured his fifth green jacket last month.

As Koepka attacked, the Woods round began in a disgraceful way with ambiguous courtesy with short battles after the start on the 10th.

The 43-year-old stole the ship and chose a birdie on the 15th, his sixth, before another double bogey brought him to the turn in three past 38 through the sand on the 17th.

A brace of birdies from the back nine and then an eagle three at the signature par-five to get to a deeper, got the impression that Woods had finally shed the rust after he had just nine holes this week played in the training. "I got a little sick, so I decided to stay home," he told reporters later.

But world No. 6, which still has to control its back after spinal fusion surgery in April 2017, dropped a shot at the fifth and two more at the seventh and eighth, its 16th and 17th, throwing its Head back in annoyance as another makeable putt stayed off.

"It was not as clean as I would like to be sure," Woods told reporters on Bethpage.

"Have it back under par for the day, and let a few slip away with a few bad putts and a few mistakes at the end."

He added, "I felt like it's not that hard to make bogeys here, but it's hard to make birdies."

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& # 39; Focus on me & # 39;

The mighty Koepka was on cruise control next to the sputtering Woods, where he stopped on Long Island after winning the US Open at Shinnecock Hills in June.

Armed with a powerful putter, he grabbed three birdies on the front nine and three more at home for a hassle free round despite the screams around Woods.

"You know, it was great that Tiger won Augusta, but I mean, we're in a new week now," Koepka told a press conference after his round. "I just have to go there and concentrate on me.

" You know what you're going to get when you play with him. I mean, it's clear that everyone in New York will cheer for him, and it will be loud, especially if he makes a putt. You just have to keep fighting and find a way to get through it. "

Go through it, he did it, and some more.

" That was one of the best rounds I & # 39; I probably played as a professional. This golf course is brutal, "he added.

The third member of the sterrio was Francesco Molinari from Italy, who held up a charge of Woods last year to win the Open in Carnoustie before he saw his hope in the performance repeat with Augusta sunk in the water of Rae & # 39; s Creek for the short 12th on the last day.

But Molinari also struggled to keep up with Koepka and to match Woods & # 39; 72.

His illustrious Ryder Cup partner Tommy Fleetwood – nicknamed the MoliWood in Paris – played a three-under-67 to lead the chasing package behind the American.

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