The No. 1 player in the world shot an opening-round 69 to put himself in a tie for ninth place heading into Friday. He's only three strokes back of leader Zach Johnson, as noted by the PGA Tour:
Even more impressive than his overall score was the fact that Woods recovered from a dismal front nine in which he shot one-over par. His round started off in the worst possible way, with Tiger hitting a duck hook into the left rough, leading to an opening bogey.
But he followed up his poor front nine with three birdies in his first four holes on the back and shot three-under par.
As the day wore on, Muirfield got faster and harder on Thursday. After his opening round of 66, Johnson told reporters that the fairways were just as fast as the greens, as noted by the PGA Tour:
Zach Johnson: "It's just so dry out there right now. The fairways are running as fast as the greens." #TheOpen— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) July 18, 2013
Woods played at the end of the day. He was one of the last golfers to finish the round, yet he played his best near the end of the day as the course continued to speed up.
This allowed him to use irons off the tee on the back nine, and he told reporters that he hit a six-iron 285 yards at one point in the round, as noted by Jason Sobel of the Golf Channel:
Tiger Woods said he hit one 285 yards today. Driver? Three-wood? Nah. Stock 6-iron.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) July 18, 2013
And while most players struggled with the speed of the greens, Woods thrived. According to ESPN Stats & Info, he sunk an astonishing 10 one-putts to tie Johnson and Angel Cabrera for the most in the field:
Tiger Woods had 10 1-putts in the Open Championship today, tied for the most in the field (Angel Cabrera, Zach Johnson)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 18, 2013
Perhaps his most impressive putt came on No. 13. After playing a rather conservative shot off the tee, Woods drained his 30-foot (approximately) putt for his third birdie in four holes, as shown by Julian Garcia:
Tiger is going to get off to an early start tomorrow, as he'll tee off at 4:44 a.m. ET.
According to the Weather Channel, he'll be playing in nearly perfect conditions. Temperatures in the high-60s and low-70s, mild wind and zero rain will afford Woods and his fellow competitors the opportunity to play aggressively when they have their chances.
Woods is going to continue playing well on Friday.
He hit enough poor shots into the rough at Muirfield on Thursday to prove that his elbow is just fine, as he hit plenty of shots out of the rough that would have caused him much pain a month ago.
How will Tiger perform on Friday?
As we've seen from Woods throughout the 2013 PGA Tour season, when he's healthy he's really difficult to best on the course. With four wins in his first six stroke-play events before his injury, Woods' game appears to be on the cusp of greatness once again.
It's only a matter of time before Woods wins another major championship. He might not win this year's British Open, but he'll certainly be in contention on Sunday.
Provided he continues playing like he did on the back nine on Thursday, Woods should post a round well under par.
Final Prediction: Woods will shoot a round of 68—three-under par.
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