Tiger Woods’s promising start at the British Open was quickly stalled by his putter.
The American held the lead early in today’s opening round at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in northwest England. Others around him took advantage of favorable scoring conditions, while the 14-time major winner went cold on the greens.
“Every putt was right on my start lines,” Woods told reporters after shooting a 3-under-par 67 that left him three shots behind leader Adam Scott. “They were dying off the front of the lip. I needed to hit the putts a little harder.”
Woods began his round by rolling in a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-3 first hole. Birdies at the fourth, sixth and seventh holes lifted him to the top of the leaderboard at 4 under par. It also left him with a chance to tie the nine-hole record for an Open at Lytham with 29, but his 10-foot putt on the par-3 ninth stopped short.
Five straight pars followed for Woods as Scott started a birdie run on the back nine that led him to tie the course record for the Open with a 64.
“I figured a couple under would have been good,” Woods said. “But I look up on the board and Scotty is going pretty low and so is everybody else.”
Woods encountered another blip on the par-4 15th hole after he put his drive into the heavy rough. After taking two shots to get out and two-putting for bogey he’d fallen to 3-under.
“I was just trying to hit the ball 80 yards in the front,” Woods said of his first shot from the rough. “Unfortunately it didn’t just grab the hosel, it grabbed the shaft and just turned it down. There are a few spots where it’s pretty deep out there.”
Woods rebounded to finish with three straight pars and stay near the top of a leaderboard full of major winners. He’s tied with Bubba Watson, Ernie Els and Graeme McDowell, two shots behind Grand Slam champions Paul Lawrie and Zach Johnson and three back of Scott.
“I’m very pleased with what I did today,” Woods said. “I really hit it well. I’ve just got to hit the putts a little harder.”