Tiger Woods put himself firmly in Open Championship contention with a solid two-under 69 in the opening round of the 2013 British Open. He was three shots behind leader Zach Johnson when he walked off the course.
Woods carded five birdies and three bogeys in Round 1. Although there were stretches where he played like the golfer who's won four times this season, a few wayward shots and difficult scoring conditions prevented him from seriously challenging for the lead.
That said, he remained within striking distance and showed no signs of the elbow injury that bothered him during the U.S. Open. With that in mind, let's check out the updated leaderboard, followed by a recap of Woods' day.
Round 1 Scorecard
All scoring information courtesy of the major championships' official site.
Day 1 Recap
Woods' afternoon got off to an ominous start. His tee shot on the first hole sailed way left into the deep rough. Those are the types of shots players must avoid throughout the week if they are going to win the season's third major. The rough lives up to its name at Muirfield.
Tiger's miss is the worse miss in golf for a pro. The low smother. Almost inconceivable he could hit a shot like that.— John Buccigross (@Buccigross) July 18, 2013
After taking an unplayable, he was able to get the ball into the greenside bunker, leaving himself plenty of room to get up and down. He did exactly that for bogey, an acceptable result given the potential disaster off the tee.
Woods bounced back nicely after the early setback. He found the fairway on the second hole. A birdie putt just missed, leading to an easy par. Another terrific sand shot on No. 3 set him up for an easy tap-in to keep him at one over.
He got back to even on the par-three fourth hole. His tee shot didn't look perfect, but the quick pace of the green allowed it to roll up within reasonable range, and Woods knocked it in for birdie.
First birdie of this 142nd British Open. Back to even par through four holes. #WhatMeWorry— GC Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) July 18, 2013
Woods was seemingly in good shape at the par-five fifth after a pair of good strikes, but his third shot left him with a tricky mid-range putt for birdie. He couldn't convert and was forced to hole another quick putt just to stay level.
By that point, it was clear the conditions he was dealing with were a serious factor. Ian Poulter predicted as much in no uncertain terms after his early round.
Unfortunately the guys this afternoon will struggle with a few pin positions. 8th hole is a joke, 18th needs a windmill & clown face.— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) July 18, 2013
Woods certainly dealt with the conditions during an adventurous trip around the sixth hole. His approach shot rolled off the green and down a slope. His first attempt to get it back on the putting surface came up short, leaving the 14-time major winner visibly frustrated.
He finally chipped it on the green. Shane Bacon of Yahoo! Sports questioned his mark, but Woods proceeded to knock in the bogey putt, dropping him back to one over after six holes.
That was a strange mark by Tiger, no? https://t.co/KtBvqIuKzl— Shane Bacon (@shanebacon) July 18, 2013
The most noteworthy thing to happen over the next three holes was the withdrawal of playing partner and 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen due to injury. As for Woods, he connected on three straight pars to finish the front side.
Tiger Woods's grouping getting more exclusive. Louis Oosthuizen, former British Open champion, withdraws at the 9th hole with injury— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) July 18, 2013
Immediately after the turn, Woods finally started to make some progress.
He posted back-to-back birdies on the first two holes of the back nine to get under par for the first time in the championship. In both instances, he faced a mid-range putt for birdie—the ones he's been missing at majors this year—and converted.
Woods followed with a nice sand save on No. 12. Then, when he was seemingly playing it safe on the par-three 13th, he showcased a vintage flair for the dramatic by knocking in a long birdie putt. It moved him to two under par.
The birdie train came to an abrupt halt on the next hole, however.
A poor approach shot left him with an extremely long putt for birdie. He attacked the hole but missed, and the lightning-fast conditions allowed the ball to roll all the way off the green. It led to his first dropped shot since the sixth hole.
After parring 15 and 16, Woods did exactly what he needed to do on the par-five 17th. He found the fairway off the tee, hit a laser approach and took a chance from long range for eagle. He couldn't get it to drop, but it was an easy tap-in birdie.
So Tiger goes to #2under with one hole remaining. Fifth birdie of the day. He'll take par here gladly to collect 69.— GC Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) July 18, 2013
He finished Day 1 with a par on No. 18 to post a two-under round.