Tiger Woods found himself stuck in neutral for most of Thursday's opening round of the 2019 Memorial Tournament en route to a two-under 70 at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.
Woods, who's won the event a record five times, tallied four birdies and two bogeys in his first competitive round since he missed the cut at the PGA Championship, the season's second major, earlier this month.
A victory this week would give the 15-time major champion 82 wins for his PGA Tour career, which would match Sam Snead for the most in history.
Woods' attempt to win the PGA Championship after he captured The Masters last month was derailed by an illness. His preparation was limited, including the forced cancellation of his Wednesday practice round, and he never seemed to find a rhythm at Bethpage Black.
"I feel a lot better," he told reporters Wednesday. "I just need to play a little bit more now. And hopefully it will be four solid days this week heading into the U.S. Open."
His driving improved Thursday compared to the PGA Championship, where he dealt with a two-way miss off the tee that hadn't been seen since his frequent struggles in 2014 and 2015. He found 78.6 percent of the fairways with an average distance just under 300 yards.
Tiger's notoriously strong iron game let him down in the first round, though. He hit just 55.6 percent of the greens in regulation and left himself a lot of mid- and long-range birdie putts even when he did find the dance floor.
All told, it was a far more promising performance from Woods than he put together two weeks ago and suggests his poor outing in the PGA Championship wasn't a sign of things to come.
He'll need a better score Friday to start getting himself in position to win the Memorial, which is hosted by 18-time major winner Jack Nicklaus. The Golden Bear said Tuesday he expects his record to fall if the 43-year-old fan favorite can stay healthy after his successful comeback from back problems.
"Who knows how long his body is going to stay together? When you've had as many operations as he's had, he may be solid enough that it's all right," Nicklaus told reporters. "And if he is I think he probably will break my record."
For now, Woods is focused on chasing a sixth Memorial title. He's scheduled to tee off his second round at 1:16 p.m. ET on Friday alongside Justin Rose and Bryson DeChambeau.