HOYLAKE, England (AP) — Playing in his first major championship since back surgery, Tiger Woods got off to a shaky start in the British Open.
Woods bogeyed the first two holes at Royal Liverpool on Thursday even though the conditions – warm and sunny with only a slight breeze – led to plenty of numbers in the red.
Sweden’s Robert Karlsson and Marc Leishman of Australia both opened at 3-under 69. Rory McIlroy, Ricky Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Jim Furyk and Hideki Matsuyama also were at 3 under and looking to take their scores even lower.
“I didn’t play fantastic, but the course is out there to make some birdies on,” said Karlsson, who teed off in the first group of the day at 6:25 a.m.
He described the breeze as “tricky,” but acknowledged it wasn’t much of a defense against those going out in the morning.
“I’ll take this tricky,” Karlsson said.
Woods ran into trouble at the first hole when his approach shot caught one of the treacherous pot bunkers. His wedge scooted through the green and led to bogey.
At No. 2, the three-time Open champion knocked a long putt about 6 feet past the hole, then missed the comebacker to take his score to 2 over.
Woods got a stroke back with a birdie at the par-5 fifth. But early on, this hardly looked like the 14-time major winner who romped to the Open title in 2006, the last time the Open was held at this course along the Irish Sea.
The conditions could not have been better for scoring for the early starters. Unlike eight years ago, when Woods won in dry, fiery conditions that made the grass more brown than green, the course was lush and relatively soft after intermittent rain on Wednesday.
Woods has gone six years without a major title and this is his first Grand Slam event of 2014, his season interrupted by back surgery on March 31. He missed the Masters for the first time, and then the U.S. Open, before returning three weeks ago at Congressional. He missed the cut by four shots, though he was happy that he felt no pain.
Woods’ threesome included Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, who is among four players with a shot at replacing Adam Scott at No. 1 in the world if he wins. The others are Justin Rose, Bubba Watson and Jason Day.
Woods was No. 1 when he took three months off to heal his back. He now is seventh.
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