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By Jim Slater

Louisville (AFP) — Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama grabbed a share of the early lead while Tiger Woods struggled at the start Thursday as the 96th PGA Championship began at Valhalla.

Woods, a 14-time major champion chasing the all-time record 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus, had been doubtful for the year’s final top event with a back injury until playing a nine-hole practice round Wednesday and declaring himself fit for the 72-hole showdown.

Purple-shirted Woods, making his 72nd major start alongside Phil Mickelson and Padraig Harrington, took bogeys at the par-3 11th and 14th, each time missing the green off the tee and failing to convert a 13-foot par putt. In between, he also missed a seven-foot birdie bid at 13.

But Woods answered at the 16th by holing out for birdie on a 34-yard shot from the fairway, pulling back to one-over, putting him four strokes off the pace being set by Matsuyama, Sweden’s Freddie Jacobson, Finland’s Mikko Ilonen, and American Brendon Todd.

AFP Photo/Sam Greenwood

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