SPRINGFIELD, N.J. – The walk to the parking lot was mercifully short. Steve Williams (search) already had the engine running in the Buick LaCrosse when Tiger Woods (search), his sweat-soaked shirt clinging to his upper body, jumped into the front seat next to his caddie.
There would be no lengthy range session, no time on the practice green after this round. A fat, opening 75 in the PGA Championship left Woods mentally drained, and he and Williams couldn't drive out of the gates of Baltusrol Golf Club (search) fast enough.
In a year to remember, this was a day to forget.
"I'm not going to work on anything," Woods said. "I'm just going to go home and relax."
An afternoon lounging on the couch at his rented house sure seemed like a good idea. You can only hope, though, that Woods had the sense to leave the TV off.
If he didn't, he might have seen guys who start shaking every time they see him in the locker room, easily handling the same course that caused him so much grief.
Heck, even some club pros were above him on the scoreboard. Most of the time, they're giving lessons and selling shirts in the pro shop. But for one day they could boast they outplayed the best player in the world.
This wasn't just a bad opening round. At 5-over-par, it was the worst first round in relation to par for Woods in a major championship since he turned pro.
Win the tournament? Try making the cut first.
"(I'm) still in the tournament, no doubt about that," Woods insisted. "A long way to go and, as you all know, the golf course is only going to get harder."
Hopefully, the course won't get any harder for Woods than it was in the opening round of a tournament he came swaggering into. He was eight shots off the lead and tied for 113th place.
Things that looked so easy only a few weeks ago in Scotland were anything but as Woods banged his way around Baltusrol's Lower Course with a temperament every bit as steamy as the hot summer day.
Woods tossed a putter in frustration after one of his 35 putts and threw a few clubs in anger. He cursed when a putt hung on the edge of a hole, and watched in dismay as iron shots spun off greens and tee shots ricocheted off trees.
At one point, he was reduced to begging two rules officials for some relief.
"On every hole you could say there was something I did wrong," Woods said.
This wasn't the way it was supposed to be. Woods came here off a five-shot win in the British Open, filled with confidence in a swing he retooled for the second time in his pro career and ready to claim his third major of the year.
Oddsmakers made him an unprecedented 2-1 pick to win, his fellow competitors acknowledged he was at the top of his game, and the thousands who came just to watch him play figured they were here for a coronation.
And why not?
If not for a balky putter that cost him the U.S. Open, this could have been an epic chase of golf's grand slam. Woods won the Masters in a playoff, barely lost the Open in the final holes and ran away with the claret jug in Scotland.
In a way, winning all three would have made Thursday's disastrous start even more painful. Imagine looking in the golf history books years from now and seeing that Woods won the first three majors and then had an MC next to his name for the fourth.
Not many of the guys he regularly beats really believe that is going to happen.
"If you're looking for me to shed a tear, it's not going to happen," Phil Mickelson said. "We all know on Sunday, his name will be up there."
So many things went wrong for Woods that even he had trouble listing them.
"I kept saying that over 72 holes, every player who plays 72 holes is going to make four bogeys," Woods said. "Unfortunately, I made four bogeys early and I couldn't afford to make any more. I didn't, I made a double."
Woods undoubtedly had some more things to say to himself, none printable, after that double bogey, on his 16th hole. If history is any guide, he'll talk to himself a lot during the long wait before his afternoon tee time on Friday.
You don't win 10 majors by not being able to overcome some adversity. But Woods hasn't exactly made a career of charging from behind.
Still, on this day Woods managed a smile even as he left. The round was already receding in his mind, and Woods seemed eager to replace it with thoughts of what might be on Friday.
"It took a lot of mental energy out of me to try and stay that patient, that calm," he said. "I could have easily lost it and packed it in and gone home, but I stayed focused."
Patience and calm won't be enough to win this tournament. There's too many players under par, and too many strokes to make up.
Woods now needs to focus on small victories, not big ones.
Making the cut would be a good start.