The world No. 2 is looking way up at the leaders after suffering an opening round 79.
This sets up for an interesting Day 2. Woods and Mickelson will both look to make a charge to the top of the leaderboard, while McIlroy will have to play amazingly simply to make the cut.
Take a look at the leaderboard, and then I'll recap the day for golf's three biggest stars.
All scoring and stats information courtesy of the major championships' official site.
Tiger Puts Himself in Great Position
Tiger Woods' Round 1 Scorecard
Woods' round got off to an ominous start, as he jacked his opening tee shot well left and had to take an unplayable lie.
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
He recovered nicely and steadied as he battled to play the rest of the front side at even par. He quickly got things going in the right direction on the back.
He birdied three of the first four holes on the back side to move to two-under. That run was capped off with this nice birdie putt:
Woods couldn't keep rolling at that pace, but he did finish the rest of his round at even to end the day with a score of 69.
This is an impressive score regardless of when Woods teed off, but considering he went with the afternoon group when scoring conditions were harder, it was a marvelous round. The rest of the field should be a little nervous about the position of the world's No. 1 golfer.
Just as importantly as his score, Woods was showing no ill effects from the elbow injury that has kept him out of action since the U.S. Open.
Woods kept his driver in the bag for most of the day, and this helped him hit 10-of-14 fairways. His irons were solid, and his short game was reliable. He needed just 1.5 putts per hole.
Mickelson Looks Solid
Phil Mickelson's Round 1 Scorecard
Unlike Woods, Mickelson went off early in the day. So, his two-under is not quite as impressive.
No one has to tell Lefty this.
Phil Mickelson says he got "really lucky to play early" because he "at least had a fighting chance" at the Open Thursday.— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) July 18, 2013
Still, this is a good sign for his chances all the same. Rolling into this tournament fresh off a win at the Scottish Open, Mickelson kept his hot hand going as he birdied two of his first three holes. However, he quickly cooled off and played the rest of the front at one-over.
Mickelson got hot again on the back when consecutive birdies on Nos. 14 and 15 moved him to three-under. However, a bogey on 18 knocked him back.
In all, Mickelson did a nice job of putting himself in position to make birdies. He hit 13-of-18 greens in regulation.
However, Mickelson was less than thrilled after his round, not so much about his play, but how the course was set up.
The Associated Press passes along post-round quotes from Lefty where he expresses his displeasure over the pin locations Thursday.
Rory McIlroy's Round 1 Scorecard
McIlroy's problems extend far beyond pin placements. According to the two-time major champ, they extend all the way to his brain.
Rory McIlroy after a 79: "You've just got to play through it. It's got nothing to do with technique. It's all mental." #TheOpen— Alex Myers (@AlexMyers3) July 18, 2013
Reporter: "Is it a lack of confidence?" Rory: "Yeah, it's definitely that." #TheOpen— Alex Myers (@AlexMyers3) July 18, 2013
Even worse for McIlroy is the fact he played this disastrous round in the early group. He was partnered with Mickelson.
Things were so bad for McIlroy that he had to scramble up the 18th fairway or he would have finished with an 80. Of course, the way he played the backside, he deserved an 80.
McIlroy hit just one fairway on the back, and he wasn't putting so hot, either. On the 15th, he putted his ball into a bunker.
As ESPN's Justin Ray points out, McIlroy's struggles have now hit an unprecedented new low:
Rory McIlroy cards 79, his worst ever opening round score in a major. Rory is now a combined +24 in the majors in 2013.— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) July 18, 2013
At this point, it seems highly unlikely McIlroy will be around for the weekend.