LYTHAM ST ANNES, England - It was by no means the best round Tiger Woods has played in a British Open but worryingly for the rest of the field the 14-times major winner putted superbly on slow greens to begin his title bid with a rock-solid 67.
The former world number one started like a train with four birdies in seven holes on his way to a three-under-par first round which left him three shots behind leader Adam Scott of Australia.
Woods rolled back the years with some phenomenal putting, an area of his game he has struggled with since the personal problems and injuries that have left him without a major title for four years.
That could be about to change if Lytham's greens do not provide more of a test.
“I only hit one putt that was off line,” Woods said. “I just needed to hit the putts a little bit harder. These greens are not quick,” a contented Woods told a scrum of reporters behind the practice green at the Lancashire links.
“With the amount of rain that they've had on these things, they're not very fast. So I've got to make that adjustment,” the 36-year-old added.
After his fast start a string of birdie chances followed as Woods drove the ball consistently well to find 13 of 14 fairways.
His one mishap came at the tough 15th where he pulled his drive left into deep rough and the course bared its teeth after being pummelled by Woods early on.
“People don't realise how deep some spots are. Some spots are pretty benign, but then there are a few spots where it's pretty deep out there,” Woods said in reference to his attempted escape shot which found an even worse lie.
“I was just trying to hit it 80 in the air. I had the face open but it snagged it and just went left.”
The punishment was his only bogey of the day but it failed to take the smile off Woods's face over the closing three holes as he joked with playing partners Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia.
“We've got a long way to go,” Woods said. – Reuters