MELBOURNE – Already shouldering a big burden as playing captain, Tiger Woods' Presidents Cup load grew heavier on Thursday after the United States crashed to a 4-1 deficit after the first round of fourball matches at Royal Melbourne.
The first playing captain at the biennial tournament in 25 years, Woods led from the front in a six-birdie masterclass, carrying team mate Justin Thomas to a 4&3 trouncing of Marc Leishman and Joaquin Niemann.
He gave Thomas a hug, offered a quick and upbeat television interview, and then watched his day rapidly go downhill from the sidelines.
While his team mates' travails were tough viewing for Woods, the crowds and organisers will be delighted with the early score.
It has injected vital interest into a tournament that threatened to become irrelevant under a weight of American supremacy, while ensuring 43-year-old Woods will swing the clubs again on Friday, rather than manage affairs through a walkie-talkie.