Tiger Woods ditches £70MILLION putter for one kinder on his back as he roars into contention at PGA Championship

TIGER WOODS ditched his £70million putter and roared into contention at the USPGA Championship with a back-up that is better for his back.

Woods fired an opening round two-under 68 at Harding Park in San Francisco to blow away the cobwebs on only his fifth round of competitive golf since February.

But it was not the swashbuckling recovery shots or monster drives that caught the eye – rather the great equaliser he sneakily placed in his bag.

Woods, 44, won 14 of his 15 Majors using his famed Scotty Cameron Newport 2 putter.

He cherishes it so much that he won’t even let son Charlie play with it.

Seeing it in a pro shop, you wouldn’t think twice about picking up the chipped and battered putter with a worn-out sweetspot.

But Woods’ fellow pros reckon that one club is worth £70m.

He was offered a “seven-figure sum” by a Japanese investor for it in the past, but politely said no.

And PGA Tour star Marc Leishman has said: “I bet you could offer him £70m for it and he probably wouldn’t take it.”

True. What he will take though is a solid start to a bid for his 16th Major – and his lowest opening round in a big one since the 2012 US Open.

Woods saw off younger playing partners Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas easily after they opened with a level-par 70 and one-over 71 respectively.

But making the switch to the new Scotty Cameron – which Woods yesterday used for the first time in a Major – was nothing to do with feel or fancy.

It was to allow him to practice without his surgically-repaired back hurting him too much.

Woods, whose career-saving spinal fusion surgery in 2017 was his fourth back operation, said: “I’ve been messing round with this putter for the better part of a year.

“It’s a little longer than my original one which makes it easier on my back. I can spend more time practising.

“It’s one of the reasons why Senior Tour players never putt with the same length putter – it’s a little bit hard to bend over.

“I putt with my sand wedge all the time and this feels more like my sand wedge.”

Woods shot his lowest opening round in a major since 2012 with a two-under-par 68 in San Francisco.

The 15-time major winner played alongside Rory McIlroy, who finished level par at the year's first major at TPC Harding Park.

England's Justin Rose and Brooks Koepka, going for a third straight US PGA win, both carded four-under 66s.

They sit one behind joint leaders Jason Day and Brendon Todd.

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