Lemont (Illinois): World number one Tiger Woods, without a victory since March, equalled the course record by firing a nine-under-par 63 to grab the lead after the first round of the 100th Western Open Thursday.
Woods carded his lowest round of the year. He went out in a four-under 32 after starting at the 10th and then added five birdies on his inward nine, including four in the last five holes.
Vance Veazey was in second place on 64 at Cog Hill Golf and Country Club’s Dubsdread course. World number seven David Toms, who won the FedEx St Jude Classic last Sunday, continued his excellent run of form by shooting a 65.
Title-holder Jerry Kelly was fourth on 66. US Masters champion Mike Weir of Canada, Cliff Kresge, Jason Gore, Chad Campbell, Heath Slocum and Brian Bateman were four strokes off the pace on 67.
The 27-year-old Woods, who won here in 1997 and 1999, posted an eagle, eight birdies and one bogey in what he called his best round in four months. “Different circumstances but I really played probably the same way at the World Matchplay (in March),” he said at the end of the day. “But obviously, it’s matchplay, so you have two totally different mindsets.”
His matchplay victory at Carlsbad (California) was followed by another win at the Bay Hill Invitational three weeks later, but he said he had not suffered a slump in form since then.
“See, if you’ve been following what I’ve been saying the last few tournaments I’ve played in, I’m very close,” he said. “It’s just a matter of the things I’m working on, for them to come around. I hit a lot of good shots today. It’s a lot of fun when you hit shots that flush and that solid, and it’s awfully nice to get rewarded by making some putts,” said Woods Thursday.
The world number one’s round was interrupted halfway through by a thunderstorm..