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Tiger Woods off to Steady British Open 2018 Start, Shoots Even Par on Thursday

Gill Clark@@gillclarkyFeatured Columnist IJuly 19, 2018

US golfer Tiger Woods plays from the 9th tee during his first round on day one of The 147th Open golf Championship at Carnoustie, Scotland on July 19, 2018. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)        (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)
GLYN KIRK/Getty Images

Tiger Woods made his return to the British Open for the first time since 2015 and shot an even-par 71 on his opening round on Thursday at Carnoustie Golf Links in Angus, Scotland.

The American made a promising start, thrilling the crowd for much of his round as he moved to two-under.

However, errors crept into his game on the back nine. Three bogeys proved costly as he dropped back and ended the day five shots behind the early leader, Kevin Kisner.

Nick Pietruszkiewicz at ESPN offered his view of the American's effort:

Nick Pietruszkiewicz @npiet_ESPN

You can look at Tiger Woods' even-par 71 one of two ways -- he missed chances and could have easily shot 4 under or he survived down the stretch when his swing got a little loose. https://t.co/ujiWdXM5Gt

The American was given a huge ovation from the crowd as he got his tournament underway. He made a great start too, as he sunk a birdie putt at the first hole.

ESPN Stats & Info noted the last time he managed to birdie the first at a major:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Tiger Woods birdies the first hole at #TheOpen, the first time he has opened a major championship with a birdie since the 2012 Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes.

Woods made par on the next two holes before securing another birdie at the fourth to put him two-under early on.Β 

He looked in trouble at the fifth after finding the bunker with his second shot. However, he almost managed a birdie with a brilliant putt which teetered on the edge of the hole but refused to go in. He had to settle for par but even that had looked unlikely at one point.

Woods was also showing no signs of discomfort despite wearing tape on his neck. Steve DiMeglio of USA Today explained the nature of his problem:

Steve DiMeglio @Steve_DiMeglio

Per his camp: @TigerWoods woke up with stiff neck, put on KT tape and quickly felt better. No big deal, nothing major.

Woods made par for the remainder of the front three but dropped a shot at the 11th. He hit back instantly with a birdie at the 12th, sinking a long putt which elicited a fist pump from the American.

Sky Sports Golf showed him in action:

Sky Sports Golf @SkySportsGolf

"The king of bounceback" Tiger Woods holes a testing birdie putt to bounce back from his first bogey of the round to move to -2. Follow live coverage from the opening round of the 147th Open at Carnoustie on Sky Sports The Open or here : https://t.co/uMu44pHMwv #TheOpen https://t.co/MlZvlSmHcn

The three-time Open winner continued to provide plenty of entertainment on his way back to the clubhouse. A delicate chip from the back of the green at the 12th almost brought another birdie but was enough for par.

However, there was disappointment to follow as he dropped a shot after three-putting at the 13th. The ball curled around the hole but simply refused to drop as Woods had to settle for a bogey.

He only managed par on the 14th, widely considered to be one of the easiest holes on the course, to remain one-under with three holes left to play.

His tee shot found the bunker at the 15th leaving him with plenty of work to do, and the prospect of a highly promising round slipping away from him. This time he could not save par as he dropped another shot.

The Open showed how the American was still a big draw with supporters:

The Open @TheOpen

On the Tiger trail πŸ… #TheOpen https://t.co/p8l8Nqi5As

Woods had a slim chance to secure a birdie on the final hole but needed two putts to finish off to secure a solid return to the British Open.

Golf writer Jason Sobel offered some context on Woods' opening round:

Jason Sobel @JasonSobelTAN

Tiger Woods opens with even-par 71. His second-best score in a major championship round this year, behind only a final-round 69 at the Masters. Baby steps.

It's a decent start from the former champion, although he may feel it could have been even better but for those dropped shots on the back nine.