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The Journal Gazette

Friday, June 29, 2018 1:00 am

Golf

Spaun leading way as Woods scuffles at TPC

Associated Press

POTOMAC, Md. – The guy who has been fiddling with putters because he wasn't happy with the results finally saw his share of putts go in.

If only Tiger Woods could have looked behind him, he might have seen J.J. Spaun match his best score of the year with a 7-under 63 to share the lead with Andrew Landry in the Quicken Loans National.

Spaun, who has gone back-and-forth with putters four times in his last six tournaments, quietly went about his business Thursday while most of the attention was on Woods in the group ahead of him using a mallet-style putter to help him shake out of a slump.

A new putter gave Woods a better feel, but the same middling results. He had six birdie chances from 10 feet or closer and made two of them to offset a double bogey early in his round, and he had to settle for an even-par 70.

“I shot about the score I should have shot today,” Woods said.

Landry shot his 63 in the morning when the TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm was soft, though still punishing with its thick rough. Spaun did his work in the windier afternoon, even if no one noticed. He played in the group behind Woods, and didn't even get leftovers from thousands of fans watching golf's biggest draw.

“Hell, no,” Spaun said with a laugh. “They don't even know who I am. They played so fast, actually. They were a solid hole ahead of us. ... I was kind of nervous, but I was more excited. I was like, 'Oh, I'm going to get to see his second shots from looking back from the tee.' But they played so fast, I didn't even see him at all. I just saw his pink shirt way in the distance.”

Woods had five straight birdie chances from 8 feet or closer on the back nine. He made two of them – one of them from 3 feet – and didn't make a putt longer than 10 feet the entire round. It was the first competitive round for Woods on the TPC Potomac, and his first time playing the tournament since 2015. This also is the last edition, and the field is among the weakest this year on the PGA Tour. Rickie Fowler is the only player in the top 10 in the world, and he also rallied for a 70. 

LPGA: In Kildeer, Illinois, South Korea's Sung Hyun Park shot a bogey-free 6-under 66 to take the first-round lead in the KPMG Women's PGA Championship.

The 2017 U.S. Women's Open Champion birdied three of the four par-5 holes at Kemper Lakes in the third of the LPGA Tour's five majors.

Canada's Brooke Henderson, the 2016 KPMG winner and runner-up last year, was a stroke back with Jessica Korda, Jaye Marie Green and Brittany Altomore.

The 24-year-old Park won the LPGA Texas Classic in May, but followed that with three missed cuts and a tie for 61st last week in Arkansas.