Tiger Woods' first day at the British Open: strong early, rocky late

Yahoo Sports

If there’s anything that’s savaged Tiger Woods’ chances at majors of late, it’s been his terrible opening rounds. Woods hasn’t broken par in the opening round of a major in four years — or, in his terms, eight majors. He’s put himself out of contention long before the weekend even approaches.

Not this time, though. Woods has already said he expects to win a British Open again, and Thursday at Carnoustie, he took a tentative step in that direction, carding an even-par 71 in steadily worsening conditions. Woods finished the day five strokes behind leader Kevin Kisner, but given the many saves and precise putts Woods pulled off over the course of his round, the card could have looked much worse.

Woods starts strong

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Woods birdied his very first hole — a marked contrast from the U.S. Open, where he triple-bogeyed — and from there carded a two-under front nine that left him just three strokes off Kisner’s clubhouse lead.

Ah, but this is the British Open, and nothing stays calm for very long. An approaching storm kicked up wind, and with it Tiger’s scores. Woods recorded three bogies against just one birdie on the back nine to end at even on the day.

Tiger’s best moment

Woods’ finest moment may have come on the 14th hole, when he found himself plugged up against the wall of one of Carnoustie’s notorious pot bunkers. He chipped the ball out of the sand with less than an inch to spare, managing to salvage a par out of what could have been a catastrophic, round-destroying hole. Another highlight: his long birdie putt on No. 11, one that brought back memories of Tiger putts of old…

Woods was one of many who ended up on the wrong side of the weather draw, fighting the wind as the sun set. With rain expected in the forecast early Friday, Woods and those around him could again be fighting the elements.

“It played a little on the quick side out there this afternoon,” Woods said. “I thought I played a pretty solid round. Unfortunately I didn’t take care of both par-5s … the round could have been a little bit better.”

On the plus side, however, Woods didn’t appear to be showing any ill effects from what his camp called a bad night’s sleep, one that led to a minor panic when Woods showed up at Carnoustie with black kinesio tape on his neck.

“I’ve been taped up and bandaged up [before]. You’re just able to see this one,” Woods said. “It’s no big deal. Just gotta play.”

Woods tees off for his second round at 5:20 a.m. Eastern, so by the time America gets up tomorrow, we ought to have a good idea of whether he’ll really challenge for a win … or if he’ll make the weekend.

Tiger Woods played well at the British Open, but not well enough to challenge. (Getty)
Tiger Woods played well at the British Open, but not well enough to challenge. (Getty)

Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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