Woods in tie for early lead at Southern Hills

Updated: 2007-08-10 01:53

TULSA, Oklahoma - Holder Tiger Woods, desperate to win his first major in 12 months, charged into an early share of the lead at the U.S. PGA Championship on Thursday.

The world number one birdied three of his first six holes at Southern Hills Country Club to set the pace at three under with playing partner Rich Beem of the U.S. and Austrian Markus Brier.

Brier, playing in the tournament for the first time, picked up shots at the 10th, 13th and 17th to reach the turn in three-under 32.

Spaniard Sergio Garcia, eager to bury the disappointment of last month's British Open, was a further stroke back after eight holes in hot and humid morning conditions.

Garcia, beaten by Irishman Padraig Harrington in a playoff for the British Open at Carnoustie, reeled off three successive birdies from the par-three 11th before bogeying the 17th.

That left him at two under and level with twice U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen, Colin Montgomerie of Britain and Americans Arron Oberholser and Pat Perez.

South African Goosen, who won the last major played here at the 2001 U.S. Open, and Oberholser had completed eight holes, Montgomerie seven and Perez four.

Woods, tournament favourite after romping to an eight-shot victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday, made a strong start as the year's final major began amid a flurry of birdies.

After taking an iron off the tee at the par-four 10th, his opening hole, the three-times champion struck his approach to 12 feet and coolly rolled in the putt.

He picked up another shot at the par-five 13th after reaching the green in two and also birdied the 15th.

The opening round began under partially overcast skies but, by the time Woods and his partners had completed two holes, the par-70 layout was bathed in unrelenting sunshine.

Weather forecasts expect conditions to remain hot and humid for the rest of the day with a slight chance of an isolated shower late in the afternoon.