BRITISH OPEN: Tiger Woods shot a 67 for his opening round. (Courtesy: US PRESSWIRE)
By Steve DiMeglio, USA TODAY
HAM ST. ANNES, England - From his opening tee shot Thursday in the first round of the British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, Tiger Woods was rarely in a spot of bother.
The same could be said for a bunch of other players.
On a defenseless links on the western coastline of England, Woods set forth with a birdie from 10 feet on the par-3 first hole and came home with 3-under-par 67 as he tries to win his 15th major, his fourth Open championship and his first major since the 2008 U.S. Open.
Woods trails pace-setting Adam Scott, who had a chance to become the first player to shoot a 62 in a major championship but a last-hole bogey left him at 64. The score ties 1996 Open champion Tom Lehman's third-round score as the lowest shot at Royal Lytham in the Open Championship.
One shot behind Scott is 1999 Open champion Paul Lawrie, who holed out three times from just off the green in his first six holes. Joining Lawrie at 65 was Zach Johnson, who won last week's John Deere Classic in a playoff. The last player to win the week prior to the Open and then win the Open was Lee Trevino in 1971.
In all, 19 of the first 50 players who finished play in the morning wave shot par or better.
"It's nice just to take advantage of the calm conditions today," Scott said. "It was surprising but very pleasing to go out and play some solid golf. It's what I haven't done the first rounds of the majors this year, and that was my goal here, really, starting the week was to play today like it was Sunday and there was no tomorrow.
"I did a good job of that, and now I've got my work cut out for me the next couple of days to keep myself in a similar kind of position."
With little to no wind - flags were motionless - and with mild temperatures under cloud cover - players were in short sleeves, caddies in shorts - scores of red numbers lit up the leader boards and the par-busting 205 bunkers and the knee-high rough were of little nuisance.
"Well, the weather obviously dictates how you feel and how you play," Lawrie said. "And today was a perfect day. We've had a good playing day, and we've had a good scoring today. (Friday) if the weather is a bit different, the mindset is going to be different. You deal with that one day at a time.
"I can play when it is flat calm and I can play when it's nasty. You've just got to adapt your game and you've got to play all your shots, like all the players can. Nowadays the bad whether doesn't just suit the British and Scottish players, these American boys and all of them can play in the weather, the wind, it doesn't make any difference."
Woods encountered trouble only on the par-4 15th, when his drive wound up in heavy rough, his violent slash on his second shot sent the ball into higher rough, and he eventually made a bogey. He went out in 4-under 30, adding birdies on the fourth, sixth and seventh holes.
Conditions were still calm eight hours after play started. The forecast does not include a major departure from little wind and no rain.