| Tiger Woods tees off the ninth hole during the opening round of the World Golf Championships at the Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish Thursday. The three-time defending champion was sharing the fourth spot with ten others at three-under 71. (AFP)
Sammamish (Washington): South Africaís Retief Goosen fired a bogey-free, six-under-par 65 on Thursday to join Japanís Toshi Izawa at the top of the leaderboard in the World Golf Championships-NEC Invitational after the opening round.
Davis Love III, Phil Mickelson and Northern Irelandís Darren Clarke are tied for third, one shot off the leadersí pace, while Englandís Justin Rose, Steve Lowery and Kenny Perry are in sixth place at four-under.
Lurking behind the leaders is world number one Tiger Woods, who double-bogeyed the par-three 17th, then birdied the 18th on his way to a three-under 68 that gave him a share of ninth place with 10 others.
Last weekís hero, Rich Beem, who defeated Woods by one shot last week to win the PGA Championship, never recovered from bogeying his second and third holes of the day and finished with a three-over 74.
Goosen, who started his round off the 10th tee, birdied the 10th, 13th and 17th holes to make the turn in three-under.
He shot up the leaderboard with an eagle three on the second hole when he hit a four-iron approach to 10 feet and made the putt.
He then drew level with Izawa with seven-foot birdie putt on the par-four seventh.
Izawa, who also began his round early in the day on the 10th hole, had a quiet two-under opening nine holes, with birdies on the 14th and 18th.
He then birdied number one and two and bogeyed the third hole before collecting three more birdies.
Despite making the cut in the majors he played this season, Izawa is winless in 2002 on the Japan Tour and is only 34th on that tourís money list