On a course many consider the toughest test of golf ever, Tiger Woods performed like, well, Tiger Woods. The old Tiger Woods, that is, meaning he managed his way around the very difficult Olympic Club in San Francisco with aplomb, hitting a variety of shots into rock-hard greens and making enough putts to post a solid 1-under 69 Thursday.
An effort like that is further evidence that Woods could be truly returning to the form that made him golf’s envy. He has not won a major championship in four year, but to trail leader Michael Thompson by just three shots after the first day is a significant step toward major No. 15.
Playing with Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson, Woods made four birdies against three bogeys. His stretch of consecutive birdies on holes 4 and 5 moved him to 2-under. He bogeyed the next hole and parred his way in from there.
Meanwhile, Mickelson and Watson blew up. The pair of lefties were all over the place, shooting 76 (Mickelson) and 78 (Watson), respectively.
Woods mixed driver and irons off the tee throughout his round on a course that is not particularly long for this championship but does have some dramatically long holes, especially on the front nine.
Missed birdie putts on the first and second holes — yanking the latter off the lip from about 4 feet — cost Woods. But they did not distract him.
Michael Thompson, the 2007 U.S. Amateur runner-up at The Olympic Club, was outstanding Thursday, taking the clubhouse lead at minus-4.