Tiger Woods’ hot start cools, but not completely

There are worse ways to begin a British Open. On a day where the greens were soft and the wind was nonexistent, Tiger Woods was one of many players to take advantage of Royal Lytham & St Annes. He shot a 3-under 67, briefly holding the lead, and was as pleased as he could be with a round that had only one truly bad hole.

"I played well today," Woods said afterward. "I got off to a sweet start, and kept hitting it well." (Yes, that's what passes for good quotes from Woods. We don't go to the guy for stunning insight, we go to him for stunning golf.)

[Related: Watch Tiger Woods hack out of a divot on the 10th hole]

Woods birdied his first hole, and by hole seven was 4-under. He didn't miss a fairway until the 15th, when he found the thick rough and needed two shots to escape. He wasn't able to sustain his hot start, but he didn't give it all back, either, and at his finish sat three strokes behind clubhouse leader Adam Scott.

For those looking for hopeful signs: Tiger's birdie on one was the first time he's begun a British Open with a red number since 2001. And as CBS Sports noted, Woods opened his three British wins with rounds of 67, 66 and 67.

If there was a flaw in Woods' game on Thursday, it was his putting. He left at least four strokes out on the course simply by not quite putting enough mustard behind the ball. But he was on target, which is something that couldn't be said of Woods' putting stroke in many recent tournaments. "Every putt was starting [on] all my lines just needed to hit six inches to a foot harder."

It's a long way to Sunday. Heck, it's a long way to the cut line, and the way that the rough can derail a game, even a good round can vanish into the muck and mire in an instant. But Woods has knocked down one good round out of four. Until he wins that first post-scandal major, it's baby steps all the way ... but so far, so good.

"I played a beautiful round of golf today," Woods said. "I'm right there."

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