WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS: Tiger Woods found his groove at the Greenbrier Classic on Thursday (Friday in Manila), bouncing back from his disastrous US Open with a four-under-par 66 that left him four shots behind first-round leader Scott Langley.
Langley had eight birdies with no bogeys in his career-best eight-under-par 62.
He hit 12 of 14 fairways and 17 of 18 greens in regulation as he matched the Greenbrier’s best opening round as well as the lowest first-round score on the PGA Tour this season.
But it was Woods’ solid first-round effort that grabbed the headlines, as the 14-time major champion improved on his best first-18 effort of his 2015 campaign by a whopping seven strokes.
Woods posted his first round in the 60s since the Masters, where rounds of 69 and 68 in the second and third rounds helped him finish tied for 17th.
That performance at Augusta National in April has been the brightest spot of Woods’s season to date and he arrived at the Old White TPC off a missed cut at the US Open at Chambers Bay, where his rounds of 80 and 76 added up to the worst 36-hole performance of his career.
“Even though my scores don’t indicate it, my swings don’t indicate it . . . my feels were telling me that I wasn’t that far off,” said Woods, the former world number one who has slumped to 220th in the world.
“It was just a matter of just getting into a little bit of the rhythm and flow of it, and I found that.”
Woods, playing his only tuneup for the British Open at St. Andrews in a fortnight, teed off on 10 and got to three-under with birdies at 12, 15 and 16 before giving a stroke back at the par-five 17th.
After a birdie at the par-four second, Woods dropped two shots at the par-four sixth, where he was in the rough off the tee and in a greenside bunker with his approach shot.
But he held on with three straight birdies to cap his round.
“Wasn’t good, making a double there,” Woods said, adding that he told caddie Joey LaCava “We’re just playing too well to be at one-under par.”
He was hoping to get back to three-under for the round “And we happened to pull off a hat-trick coming home,” said Woods, who stuck his approach within four feet for birdie at the seventh then rolled in putts of 18 and 19 feet at the last two holes.
Langley, seeking his first PGA Tour title, had a one-shot lead over New Zealand’s Danny Lee and fellow American Jonathan Byrd.
Both Lee and Byrd had seven birdies without a bogey to reach seven-under 63.
It was a further stroke back to England’s Brian Davis and Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa on 64, while half a dozen players shared sixth on 65.