ST. LOUIS — What Tiger Woods really needed after two holes at the PGA Championship was a fresh start.
A change of shirts helped do the trick.
Too bad he couldn’t do something about those numbers already on the scorecard.
A bogey-double bogey start left Woods scrambling to stay close Thursday. After having his caddie grab his backup shirt from the bag, Woods popped into a restroom near the 12th tee box, put on the dry shirt, and shot 3 under the rest of the way to finish at even-par 70. That kept him within six shots of leader Gary Woodland.
‘‘It kept me in the golf tournament,’’ Woods said. ‘‘It could have easily gone the other way, being 3 over through two. A lot of things could’ve happened, and not a lot of them are positive.’’
Opening the day on the back nine at steamy Bellerive Country Club, things couldn’t have been much worse for Woods after Nos. 10 and 11.
His opening tee shot found the right-side rough, and the ball sat down so low he simply pitched out, then left his approach shot nearly 40 feet short. Bogey.
His tee shot on the second hole landed in the left-side rough, 120 yards away, with the most direct line to the hole crossing a pond. Woods said he wasn’t aiming at the pin.
‘‘I was trying to hit it left of the hole, and I stuck it in the ground and hit it short right,’’ he said. ‘‘I came up 12 yards short of my number.’’
The ball hit the top of the hill and trickled back into the water. Woods had to scramble for a 6, and was 3 over before he grabbed a new shirt, which seemed to make a difference.
Woods hit his approach to 2 feet on No. 12 for his first birdie. Rory McIlroy, who joined Justin Thomas and Woods in the threesome, adjusted the back of Tiger’s collar as they approached the next tee box, and from there Woods made three more birdies and one bogey to finish at even par.
‘‘Just tried to keep chipping away at it,’’ Woods said. ‘‘Just keep hanging in there.’’