(Reuters) – Tiger Woods reunited with an old friend and came within one shot of his career low score, an eight-under-par 62 that tied Rory McIlroy for the first-round lead at the BMW Championship in Pennsylvania on Thursday.
Sep 6, 2018; Newtown Square, PA, USA; Tiger Woods hits his second shot on the third hole during the first round of the BMW Championship golf tournament at Aronimink GC. Mandatory Credit: Eric Sucar-USA TODAY Sports
Woods brought out of mothballs the old Scotty Cameron putter that he wielded in 13 of his 14 major championship victories, and it was just like old times as he putted with the assurance of yesteryear.
A 20-foot birdie at his first hole, the 10th, was a confidence-boosting start in oppressive humidity on the Aronimink course in the rolling hills just west of Philadelphia.
“This is something familiar. I know this putter,” Woods told Golf Channel.
“I’ve been monkeying around with it throughout the summer at home in the back yard and decided to put it back in the bag today.
“It felt good. My body remembers the feel of that putter and how it swings. I’m just letting it rip on the greens.
“I made a few putts today, right out of the gate.”
He has shot 61 four times on the PGA Tour, most recently at the 2013 Bridgestone Invitational. He won that week for his 79th career victory on tour but is still stuck on the mark five years later.
McIlroy threatened to steal the headlines from Woods. The Northern Irishman made six straight birdies from his ninth hole to go nine under and raise the possibility of shooting 59.
But consecutive bogeys at his 16th and 17th holes put paid to that notion, before he birdied the par-five ninth after hoisting a five-wood second shot to the heart of the green.
Earlier, Woods rushed to the turn in 29 strokes, including a five-foot eagle at the par-five 16th.
“This was the shot of the entire day, a three-iron from 230 and I just laced it up in the air,” the 42-year-old American said.
“Boy, shooting 29 on the front nine helps.”
Another birdie at the first hole took Woods to eight under.
His only bogey came at the par-three eighth, where he misjudged his tee shot and sent an eight-iron over the back into punishing rough.
But Woods made amends with a closing birdie at the par-five ninth, where he sank a seven-foot putt.
Though he has not won since 2013, Woods missed much of four seasons with a chronic back injury before surgery last year alleviated the problem.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Ed Osmond