AKRON, Ohio -- Bounce back was the theme of the day for Tiger Woods in the opening round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, even if there wasn't an appreciable bounce in his step.
Woods looked a bit lethargic on a brilliant Thursday afternoon at Firestone CC, becoming animated only after a poor approach shot into the 14th green, which prompted swiping angrily at the ground, ripping off his glove and burying his head in his cap. But he saved par as part of a largely solid two-under 68 at the venue where he has won eight times.
"Yeah, I feel like I made some progress," Woods, 38, said of a round that included six birdies against two bogeys and one double bogey. "As I said, this is only my seventh round back, so it's just going to take a little time. I'm starting to get in the flow of things. If you look at my iron shots into the holes today, a majority of them were pin high. So I'm starting to get the feel back in my hands and get the ball, my trajectory under control. I'm starting to get the shots hitting the ball the correct numbers again."
He also is showing signs of scoring. After each of his three holes over par, including a three-putt from 10 feet at the first, Woods answered with a birdie. He got up and down for par on four of the six holes at which he missed the green, including all three on his inward nine.
At two under par, Woods was tied for ninth place, four behind Marc Leishman. Only twice has Woods shot par or worse to begin this event.
Despite the decent result, Woods appeared subdued on the course. Playing with U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer, who shot 77, Woods didn't even offer a smile after he made consecutive birdies at Nos. 5 and 6, the former with a kick-in after a near ace.
Meanwhile, he did hit a few squirrely shots. Among them a drive at No. 2 that ended up in the third fairway -- from where he made birdie -- and an iron shot off the tee at 17 that traveled just 217 yards and elicited an exasperated look.
"Yeah, I got a little ticked out there today because I know what I can do, and I know the shots that I need to hit, and I know I need to place the ball, and I didn't do it a couple times," Woods said. "And I didn't take advantage of some of the iron shots I had in there too."
That could only be construed as a good sign, as was the final tally.
"Overall, I was very pleased with today. I hit a lot of good shots," he said. "I dropped shots at three holes out there today, got it right back on the very next hole. That was nice to have three good bounce-backs. Overall, it was a good, solid day."