Johannesburg - Retief Goosen tied for his lowest opening round of the season with a four under par 66 at the St Jude Classic on the PGA Tour, at TPC Southwind, in Memphis, Tennessee, on Thursday.
The South African lies three shots off leader Ben Crane of America, on seven under after the weather interrupted the first round which would be completed later Friday.
Goosen credited his performance with the flatstick as the key to his good score.
“I would say the putting [was my strength],” said Goosen after his first round.
“A couple of the birdies were fairly close but the other ones, were about 15 footers and so that I made, and I made probably a 12-footer on seven for par as well.
“So, that sort of kept the round going nicely and, yeah, the greens are as good as greens as you can get.”
Goosen, 45, battled with a persistent back injury last year and made a return to competition earlier this year.
“After the layoff at the end of last year when I started playing again in Augusta, the game was rough but I honestly can't complain.
“My back is feeling great. No back pain.”
While the two-time Major winner said he was still feeling his age, he was pleased to be in better shape.
“I wish I was 20 years younger but that is never going to happen but, you know, my back is feeling probably the best now it has felt for probably six, seven years.”
Goosen lines up at the US Open next week at Pinehurst at the course where he won his second Major in 2004. The 10-year exemption into the event expires for Goosen after this edition, and he did not rule out a possible victory.
“It's nice to be back out here playing again and it could have been the end of my career but I'm back out here, feeling confident and will hopefully just start getting a better consistency going.
“If I can just get to four good rounds, that will give me a chance to win.”
The Goose, a former world number three, through his injury and poor results has seen his world ranking drop to 217th.