Five years ago at the PGA Championship, Johnson had a one-shot lead on the final hole when he grounded his 4-iron in the bunker without realizing it was a bunker.
David Lingmerth birdied five of his first seven holes, despite playing when the wind picked up in the afternoon, and will get to play in much calmer conditions Friday morning. That group included Jason Day, J.B. Holmes and Matt Kuchar.
Woods had started calmly, making par at the opening hole – the first time he has achieved that feat at any major this year.
The world number eight, who led after the first and second rounds of the Open at St Andrews, said: “I really felt like I had my ball under control a lot like I did at the US Open”.
The 25-year-old carded a four-under par round of 68 at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin to sit in a share of third place, two strokes behind leader American Dustin Johnson.
Johnson who has been around the lead in the last two majors, only to stumble in the final stages, began strongly in his quest to crack a title.
McIlroy, too, finished at 71, as he returned to tournament play for the first time since rupturing a ligament in his ankle while playing soccer July 4.
Lee, who followed up his breakthrough win at the Greenbrier Classic last month with three top-six finishes, opened with a birdie at the first hole and followed with another at the par-two third.
“It was one of the worst putting rounds I’ve had in a very long time”, he said.
Only two golfers have topped $10 million in official season prize money on the PGA Tour: Tiger Woods, in 2005, 2007 and 2009, and Vijay Singh, who brought in a record US$10.9 million by winning nine times in 29 events in 2004. It was just getting back there.
He played his second nine in even par 36, moving to six-under with a birdie at the fifth before a bogey at the sixth.
“When you try to push and make things happen that’s when you can make some big numbers in the Majors. He’s trying to win his first, so we’ll see how it goes”.
“I thought it was good, it was a solid round of golf“, he said.
“I kept to the game plan, struck it the way I wanted to”, said Woods, although he hit just seven of 14 fairways in regulation.
“It forced me to have to pitch it, luckily, and it ended up going in”, he said. “But I was swinging well and I was hitting the shots where I was looking”. “So, I’ve just got to get a combo right and then have it for three more days”. It was a shot that brought back memories of Jean van de Velde wading into the drink at the Open Championship in Carnoustie in 1999.