Tiger Woods’ tee shot to start his British Open was way left–not the way he hoped to begin his latest quest for his 15th major championship. But that swing was not an omen of things to come. Rather, Woods’ recovery from it was indicative of his opening round at Muirfield.
Showing his typical resolve, Woods battled all day in tough, fast conditions to shoot a 2-under 69 to place three shots behind leader Zach Johnson, who is at -5.
“It was tough,” Woods said. “The golf course progressively got more dried out and more difficult as we played. And I’m very pleased to shoot anything even par or better.”
The course, playing fast with not much wind in the mid-70 temperatures, was a source of angst for many players, even a few who broke par, like Phil Mickelson, who shot 69.
Other notables had a rough time of it, including world’s No. 2 player Rory McIlroy, who showed an 8-over 79.
Woods, meanwhile, hung tough after an uneven opening nine, carding three birdies on the back. That was a long way from the way he started. He found his ball in the high weeds, but he deemed it unplayable, took a drop and maneuvered the ball into a greenside bunker and managed to get it up and down for a bogey.
“It was amazing, when I got over that tee shot, I was like, ‘If I hammer it, this 3-wood is in that bunker, so maybe I should take something off it. Maybe I should hit a 3-wood,'” Woods said. “Hence, I hit a flip hook left, and there she goes.”
Woods reported no issues with the elbow that bothered him during the U.S. Open in June and kept him out of competition since then.
“I’ve taken long breaks before, before major championships,” he said. “I’ve taken three and four weeks off and come back and played well.”
Woods was especially impressive coming in. He had a good two-putt on the 16th, knocked it on in 2 at the par-5 17th for a two-putt birdie, then managed to get up and down from 20 yards in front of the green with a strong lag putt and an 8-foot par saver.