HOYLAKE, ENGLAND - JULY 17: Tiger Woods of the United States lines up on the 1st green during the first round of The 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool on July 17, 2014 in Hoylake, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

Tiger Woods bogeyed the first two holes on his return to action in the British Open at Royal Liverpool Golf Club on Thursday.

Playing in only his second tournament in nearly four months following back surgery, the 38-year-old American hit his second shot at the opening par four into a pot bunker and had to hit out sideways.

Playing partner Henrik Stenson also had a bogey, while Angel Cabrera made par.

Woods then missed a tricky six-footer to save par at the second after over-cooking a long putt.

The early leader out on the course was Australian Marc Leishman, who got to three under through 10 holes in perfect early playing conditions.

On two under going down the front nine were Brooks Koepka of the United States, Italians Edoardo Molinari and Matteo Manassero, Sergio Garcia of Spain, Robert Karlsson of Sweden and Ryan Moore of the United States.

First man out David Howell of England birdied three in a row from the third to get to two under, but a double bogey six at the seventh pegged him back.

Also out early and among the favourites was Irishman Rory McIlroy, who was in the company of Hideki Matsuyama of Japan and Jordan Spieth of the United States.

Defending champion Phil Mickelson and world number one Adam Scott had afternoon start times. – AFP