Tiger Woods, playing with the No. 1-ranked player in the world in Rory McIlroy, spun a tidy 66 to assume a first-place tie with Justin Rose at 4-under in the opening round of the Tour Championship.
Playing under benign conditions, Woods had three birdies and a bogey on each side of the pristine East Lake course. If he was “intimidated” by McIlroy, as one-time great Greg Norman said this week, it did not show. Woods laughed off the comment on Wednesday and went out playing alongside MeIlroy on Thursday and was stelllar.
Meanwhile, McIlroy shot
Woods had back-to-back birdies on Nos. 2 and 3 and then had his first blip of the day — a bogey on the par 4 No. 4. He ground out four straight pars and then took advantage of the par 5 No. 9 with a birdie to go out at 33.
On the back 9, Woods made birdie on No. 12 to come within one shot of Rose, who was in the clubhouse with a 66 after a 52-foot birdie bomb on the last. Woods was primed to tie Rose on the 13th, but he missed a six-foot putt for birdie.
Then, he followed that with a bogey on No. 14. But instead of going the other way, Woods regrouped. He made birdie on No. 15, the difficult uphill par 5. Then, on the narrow, downhill 16th he carded another birdie to jump to 4-under. Pars on the 17th and 221-yard par 3 No. 18 were good enough for Woods.
Meanwhile, McIlroy finished three shots behind Woods with a 1-under 69. The 23-year-old from Ireland bogeyed his fist hole of the day and did not catch a roll all day. He went out in 35 and sandwiched a bogey on No. 14 with birdies on 12 and 15.
Scott Piercy, Bo Van Pelt, Matt Kuchar and Steve Stricker all were tied at 67, one shot behind Woods and Scott. Phil Mickelson, a crowd favorite, shot a 1-under 69,