By Mark Lamport-Stokes
KOHLER, Wisconsin (Reuters) - Near-perfect greens and an advantageous tee time did not help Tiger Woods' cause at the PGA Championship on Thursday as the former world number one struggled to a three-over-par 75 in the opening round.
Having missed the cut in his last two majors, Woods left himself nine strokes off the early lead and with plenty of work to do at Whistling Straits on Friday if he is to avoid missing a third in a row for the first time in his career.
More than once, the 14-times major champion cursed his misfortune on the beautifully manicured greens as he totaled 33 putts, despite benefiting from an early time in calm conditions before winds picked up later in the day.
"Well, I hit it great today, but I made actually nothing," the 39-year-old said after carding five bogeys and two birdies on a morning when 25 players dipped below par.
"Probably one of the worst putting rounds I've had in a very long time. I just had no feel at all for the speed. It was awful.
"I kept with the game plan, I struck it the way I wanted to pretty much all day. I just never got a putt."
Still working through the latest swing change of his career after recovering from back surgery, Woods has endured a dismal 2015 campaign featuring three missed cuts, a withdrawal and just two top-25 finishes in nine starts.
His PGA Tour season looks to be all but over, as he can only qualify for the lucrative FedExCup playoffs if he finishes no worse than outright second at the PGA Championship.
"The season is pretty much over very soon," said Woods, whose world ranking has plummeted to a mind-boggling 278th. "But the year's not," he added, referring to European Tour events and other tournaments around the world before the end of the year.
"I still can do things overseas, our next (PGA Tour) season is starting up (in October), I have my tournament down in the Bahamas. There's plenty of golf to be played globally."
Woods, a four-times winner of the PGA Championship, planned to head off to the practice area to work on his putting once his media commitments were over.
"We're going to have days where it's like this and I've had the flip side of it too," he said. "Hopefully I can hit the ball as well as I did today, tomorrow and make some putts."
(Editing by Larry Fine)