With a vulnerable Royal Lytham and St. Annes in front of him, Tiger Woods took advantage for nine holes.
Woods shot 3-under 67 to begin the Open Championship and trail Adam Scott by three shots.
The three-time Open champion began at the par-3 first with a birdie with an aggressive tee shot. After a pair of pars, Woods then struck for three birdies in four holes, at the fourth, sixth and seventh to reach 4 under and temporarily own the lead by himself in this championship for the first time since his last Open win in 2006 at Royal Liverpool.
After the seventh, however, Woods would not birdie the rest of the way. He made 10 pars and a single bogey, coming at the par-4 15th – the only fairway he failed to find on Thursday. Woods said he lost pace of the greens, running about 10 on the Stimpmeter.
“I played well today,” Woods said. “I got off to a sweet start there. I kept hitting it well. My pace was slightly off on the greens. I just needed to hit it another 6 inches or a foot harder.”
Reminiscent of his winning strategy in 2006, Woods hit his stinger 2-iron more often than not, angling to keep the ball in play rather than try to overpower a course shortened below 7,000 yards to accommodate for the lack of roll in the typically firm fairways. As a result of missing just one fairway, Woods found 15 greens in regulation.
The round is Woods’ lowest since the final round of the 2011 Masters and best start at the Open Championship since 2010 at the Old Course at St. Andrews.