Tiger Woods spectacularly avoided the hole in which he has often found himself in first rounds this year by summoning shades of glory days gone by on Thursday.
Woods went out in 29 en route to an eight-under-par 62 in the opening round of the BMW Championship.
His six-under front nine at Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, Pa., included four birdies and an eagle on the par-5 16th hole. He hit every green in regulation and seven of his nine shots to the green were inside 20 feet.
It was the first time he bettered 30 for nine holes since the Tour Championship in 2007. It was the sixth time he broke 30 for nine holes in his career.
To be sure, it was an anomaly for Woods in this a comeback season. He entered the tournament 140th on tour in round-one scoring average with a 71.13.
Woods' only stumble came on his 17th hole, the 242-yard par-3 eighth, when he missed the green left and was unable to get up and down for par. He offset that by closing with a birdie at his last hole, the par-5 ninth hole.
“I made a few putts today, right out of the gate at 10 and 11,” Woods said. “Shooting 29 on the front nine helps. It was nice to post a good round today and we go off early tomorrow, so it’ll be a quick turnaround.”
With solid but hardly notable finishes in the first two FedEx Cup Playoff events—T-40 at The Northern Trust and T-24 at the Dell Technologies Championship—the expectations of Woods making a big splash in the PGA Tour postseason had been tempered.
But the return of an old friend to his bag—the Scotty Cameron putter that he had used for years before benching it in July—seems to have reinvigorated Woods.
Playing alongside Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth and starting off the 10th tee, Woods birdied three of his first four holes. But the highlight of the front side came on the par-5 16th, when he went for the green in two from 241 yards with an iron and left his second shot five feet from the hole. He then converted the eagle putt, the fifth eagle of the season, to get to five under to grab the solo lead.
For good measure, Woods birdied the 18th hole (his ninth) to turn with a sub-30 score.
Putting the Cameron putter back in play marks the second flat-stick change for Woods in two weeks. After first taking out the Cameron in favor or a TaylorMade Ardmore mallet model at the QuickenLoans Invitational in July, Woods swapped the Ardmore for a TaylorMade Juno putter at last week's event at TPC Boston. But in Monday's final round, Woods took 33 putts and had a strokes gained/putting number of -1.35, prompting the return to the Cameron.
UPDATE: Tiger continued his torrid start with a birdie on his 10th hole, to get to seven under and extend his lead to three strokes.