THE manner in which Tiger Woods played the 1st hole it didn’t bode well for a course that was drying out and a tee time of 2.45pm.
But the following five hours were a masterclass of control and patience, defence and attack and the stubbornness to churn out a two-under 69.
The opening bogey would have felt like a birdie and there were five of the proper kind to come, three in four holes from the 10th which sandwiched a quite brilliant up-and-down from sand at the 12th. All performed on one knee.
On the 14th he putted off the green but this was the nature of the course by this stage and you would think that the hard work has now been done. Woods gets underway at a far more lenient 9.44am tee time.
"It was so difficult to get the ball even below the hole and in the right spot" – Tiger Woods
“The course just kept drying out. And it was so hard to get the ball close, even lag putt and try to get the ball the right speed. It was very difficult. And I tried to keep the ball in front of me as best I could. And hole a putt if I could, if I could keep it below the hole. But, again, it was so difficult to get the ball even below the hole and in the right spot.”
As for the opening tee shot the 14-time Major winner admitted that some indecision had caused the hook into some horrible rough.
“When I got over that tee shot, I was, if I hammer it, this 3-wood is in that bunker. So maybe I should take something off it. Maybe I should hit 5-wood. Hence I hit a flip hook left and there she goes. I took an unplayable, hit the shot where I wanted to, hit it right of the hole and I got up and down.”
The stat that will fill the World No 1 with confidence is the 10/14 fairways hit. There was no need for the driver and he will be hoping that the warm westerly wind remains in residence at Muirfield.
“You pack for the other weather, but we got this. And we have a westerly wind, it was hot, it was warm, the ball was flying. And wind is supposed to come out of the east on Friday. And it could be cooler, it could be not.
“It could be warm. You just never know. And that’s the thing about links golf, you just don’t know.”