Woods made seven birdies during his opening 4-under 66 on the Old White TPC, including circles on each of his final three holes. That finish came after a sloppy double bogey on No. 6, and allowed Woods to get to the clubhouse with some serious momentum.
"It was a pretty good day. I felt like I left a lot of opportunities out there, too," Woods said. "I hit the ball better than what my score indicates. I gave myself a lot of looks and just didn't make enough. But overall as of right now, I'm only (four) back. It's going to be a bunched leaderboard come Sunday."
Woods started the day on the back nine, making the turn in 2-under 34. He carded three birdies on his outward half, with his lone blemish coming when a watery tee shot on the par-5 17th led to a bogey.
The round marked Woods’ lowest score since the 2014 WGC-Cadillac Championship, and his lowest opening-round score since the 2013 BMW Championship. After missing the cut two weeks ago at the U.S. Open, Woods saw marked improvement on the scorecard Thursday, even though he insisted after the round that his swing wasn’t very different from the one on display at Chambers Bay.
"I knew I made that pattern shift at Memorial, and I wasn't that far off, even though my scores don't indicate it," he said. "My swings don't indicate it, but my feels were telling me that I wasn't that far off. I was proving it to myself time and time again away from a tournament site and on the range, but my feel in my hands and body weren't far off."
At 4 under, Woods is four shots off the early pace set by Scott Langley as soft conditions have led to a flurry of low scores. But after missing the cut in his lone prior appearance at The Greenbrier, he will now head into the second round under par – the first time he has done so in a tournament in nearly a year.
"This golf course, everyone is going to go low," Woods said. "Everyone is going to shoot under par here it seems like. It's so soft."