Tiger Woods had his greatest day in two years. Tom Hoge, William McGirt and Erik Compton were surprisingly better. Woods shot a 6-under 64 on Thursday in his first aggressive round at Sedgefield Country Club, while Hoge, McGirt and Compton — a two-time heart transplant beneficiary — shot 62s to share the lead after one round.
Morgan Hoffman, Jim Herman and Derek Ernst took after at 63, and Martin Kaymer, Davis Love III and Carl Pettersson joined Woods at 64.
It was Woods’ least score on the PGA Tour since a 61 in the second round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in 2013.
He and the others exploited a low-scoring day at what he called a “precarious” Donald Ross-composed course that surrendered groups of birdies in the wake of morning showers diminished the fairways and greens.
“When it’s similar to this,” Woods said, “you’ve got the opportunity to toss dashes and go low.”
Keeping in mind Compton, McGirt and Hoge undermined the competition record, the reasonable story of the day was Woods.
That low score couldn’t have come at a superior time for the greatest name in the game.
He set the tone by holing a 54-foot chip shot on his first gap, the standard 4 tenth, for the first of his seven birdies.
“At last,” he said, “I got something out of my round.”
Woods arrived demanding he was playing superior to anything his late results may show.
He had missed the cut in three straight majors and had not completed superior to anything a tie for seventeenth at the Masters. He’s at No. 187 on the FedEx Cup focuses rundown and likely needs a win to move into the main 125 and procure a playoff spot.
Yet he said after a week ago’s initial way out from the PGA Championship that those outcomes gave a false representation of the change he was making in his diversion.
“I know it’s insane to say, however I wasn’t playing that inadequately at PGA,” Woods said. “Any marginal shot (at Whistling Straits) I never escaped with it, and that is the way it goes. I sensed that I was hitting the ball adequate and simply continued advancing, and today was only a continuation of it.”
Particularly on that first opening, his shot from the left half of the green arrived within 10 feet from the glass and came in.
“I went for the shot, and rather than playing something more preservationist, the greens were firm, and I needed to play something long,” Woods said. “I got forceful with it, and I let it all out, and I pulled it off. … I could see it going in.”
Hoge, playing in the day’s last gathering, made a late energize the leaderboard, sinking so as to shut his round a 5-foot birdie putt on the eighteenth. Compton, who began on the back nine, completed with a 29 on the front nine with seven birdies in that compass.
“Whenever you can soften 30 up nine holes, you’re clearly doing something truly cool,” Compton said. It’s the most recent positive for a 35-year-old who earned his visit card in 2012 — four years after his second heart transplant.
He’s pursuing his first triumph, as is McGirt, who completed in a tie for eighth here a year ago. At No. 86 on the focuses list, McGirt is in for all intents and purposes no threat of missing the playoffs.
Compton — who’s closer to the cutoff at No. 114 — is simply doing whatever it takes not to lose any ground. In the interim, for the others closer to the postseason bubble, things are somewhat more upsetting — particularly for Billy Hurley III. Hurley’s first round came two days after he went to the burial service of his dad, who kicked the bucket a week ago of a self-delivered shot injury.
The 33-year-old Hurley is at No. 131 on the focuses list and is just here this week on the grounds that he’s attempting to secure his PGA Tour card for one year from now.
“It wasn’t generally a hard choice” to play, Hurley said, “yet it’s surely difficult to do.”
He said he about felt overpowered on the putting green, “practically didn’t realize what I was doing in a few routes” amid his first modest bunch of openings, then “mixed my way around” the back nine.