Tiger Woods used a fast start to shoot a 3-under-par 67 Thursday in the first round of the 141st Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club in Lytham St. Annes, England.
Playing in surprisingly calm, dry and windless conditions -- caddie Joe LaCava wore shorts -- Woods birdied four of the first seven holes and seemed on his way to a low number. But his putter cooled off; Tiger two-putted the last 11 holes.
Still, it was a strong start for Woods, who trails leader Adam Scott by three strokes. Tiger hit 15 of 18 greens and 13 of 14 fairways in regulation, and finished with 30 putts. He also avoided all 205 bunkers.
"I really played well today," said Woods, a three-time winner of the Claret Jug. "I got off to a sweet start. I kept hitting it well. My pace was just slightly off on the greens."
An early starter with Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia, Woods played a near-flawless front nine, shooting a 4-under 30. And it could have been better: He burned the edge of the cup with birdie putts on the eighth and ninth greens.
After a nice warmup, Tiger started strong with a birdie at the 205-yard, par-3 first hole, flagging a 5-iron to 15 feet and burying the putt. He two-putted the par-4 second hole for par from 25 feet, then made a nice up-and-down par-save at the 478-yard, par-4 third, where he missed the green left with a 7-iron from 194 yards and pitched to two feet.
At the 392-yard, par-4 fourth, Tiger found the fairway and hit his approach shot from 158 yards 20 feet right of the hole. His birdie putt found the bottom of the cup.
Woods missed the green to the right at the 205-yard, par-3 fifth hole, but he hit a nice pitch-and-run four feet short of the cup and made the par putt.
The 492-yard, par-4 sixth hole played as a par-5 in the 2001 Open and was the most difficult hole on the course Thursday. Tiger flushed a long iron down the fairway there, then hit a wonderful 5-iron from 224 yards to within 18 feet of the cup and buried the birdie putt.
At the 592-yard, par-5 seventh, Woods hit a 317-yard drive, then came up short-right of the green with a long iron from 272 yards. Again, he hit a beautiful pitch one foot from the cup for a tap-in birdie.
Tiger just missed a 20-foot birdie putt at the 416-yard, par-4 eighth hole. At the 167-yard, par-3 ninth, he punched a short iron 12 feet below the pin and grazed the right edge of the cup.
Woods hit a good drive down the fairway at the 387-yard, par-4 10th, but wound up in a deep, sand-filled divot. He did well to gouge his second shot with an abbreviated follow-through 20 feet right of the hole, then left his birdie putt just short.
"I was just trying to lean the shaft as much as I could and beat on it," Woods said. "I had to go down and get it."
Sticking to his conservative game plan, Tiger used an iron off the tee at the 598-yard, par-5 11th hole, although aggressive players were reaching the green in two shots due to the lack of wind. His second shot left 164 yards to the green, and he hit his third shot 35 feet past the hole, two-putting for a par.
Woods smoothly hit a nice tee shot at the 187-yard, par-3 12th hole 17 feet below the cup, but he hit a poor putt, pulling up quickly. After the two-putt par, his frustration continued at the 355-yard, par-4 13th, the first of six closing par-4 holes.
After a nice drive, Tiger had 138 yards to the pin. He knocked his second shot 20 feet beyond the hole and just missed his downhill birdie putt.
Woods two-putted the 444-yard 14th hole for a par, then struggled at the 462-yard, par-4 15th, where he missed his first and only fairway of the day, pulling a 3-wood into knee-high rough on the left.
With 226 yards remaining to the green, Tiger slashed his second shot about 100 yards into deeper rough on the left and faced a blind third shot over a dune from 126 yards. Staring a big number in the eye, he hit his best shot of the day, muscling a wedge onto the green, and two-putted for a bogey.
"The rough grabbed the shaft and turned it down," Woods said of his second shot. "The first lie was worse."
At the drivable, 336-yard 16th, Woods played safe with an iron off the tee and two-putted for a par. He did the same at the tough 17th, reaching the green with a 5-iron from 210 yards.
Tiger piped another iron down the fairway at the bunker-guarded, 413-yard 18th hole, and gave himself a good birdie opportunity, carving his approach shot from 154 yards about 16 feet left of the pin. But he couldn't convert.
"I was just a fraction short on my pace," Woods said.
On Friday, he tees off at 9:45 a.m. ET with Rose and Garcia.
"I'm right there," Woods said. "We've got a long way to go."