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Woods enjoys early surge

SHEBOYGAN, August 13 – Tiger Woods, who is coming off his worst career performance at the Bridgestone Invitational, birdied three of his first four holes to begin the 92nd PGA Championship in style on Thursday.The 34-year-old world number one needed just four putts on the first four holes after starting his round off the 10th tee.

Woods, who is playing with defending champion Yang Yong-eun and 2004 PGA Championship winner Vijay Singh, teed off over three hours late because of a fog delay to start the first round at Whistling Straits.

Australian Stuart Appleby also got off to a rousing start, and was at three under through the first nine holes after dense fog, from Lake Michigan, finally lifted.

Wearing a white shirt in the muggy conditions, Woods’ approach from 80 feet out on the par-four 361-yard 10th hole landed on the green before snaking in a 10 foot putt for birdie.

Woods hit another superb tee shot on his second hole and followed it up with an iron shot landed 10 feet from the pin.

His first errant shot came off the tee at No. 12 as he put it over the green and across a public path, but he was able to recover and get his second shot on the green and save par.

Woods’ game has hit the skids coming into the final major of the season when he shot a fourth round 77 to finish in a tie for 78th at the Bridgestone — a tournament he had won seven times before.

He finished 18-over 298, a whopping 30 shots behind winner Hunter Mahan.

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The four-time PGA Championship winner is without a win this season and without a major title in the past two years as he battles to rebuild his career and reputation following the sex scandal which engulfed him.

Appleby, who shot a 59 earlier this month at the Greenbrier Classic, also reached the top of the leaderboard.

Starting on the 10th tee, Appleby birdied his first three holes including the par-three 143 yard 12th hole.

The Australian made a good approach shot on 16, chipping it onto the flat part of the green from the right side of the fairway. His 15 foot putt got him back to three under and the early lead.

Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa struggled early on the links-style course making the turn at five over par.

The 18-year-old bogeyed three of his first six holes then made double bogey on 18 for a front nine score of 41.

Masters champion Phil Mickelson will try to make it a two-major season and has a chance to surpass Woods as the No. 1 ranked player with a strong showing this week.

Mickelson will be playing with US Open winner Graeme McDowell, of Northern Ireland, and British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa.

Mickelson stunned fans this week when he announced he is being treated for a severe but treatable case of arthritis.

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Even before the fog struck Thursday morning, the par-72, 7,507 yard course had been hit by bad weather.

Thunderstorms dumped more than four centimetres of rain on the course Wednesday, forming puddles in many of the close to 1,000 bunkers and softening the fairways and greens.

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