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Woods surges into Open championship leaderboard led by McIlroy

Woods catches fire late in British Open first round
Woods catches fire late in British Open first round
Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Tiger Woods made personal history just by starting the 2014 British Open championship on July 17. For the first time this year, Woods has finished a round in a major championship, yet he would like to do more than that at the British Open. When the day started, however, Woods was off to a now customary slow start -- yet the back nine saw a brief return of the Tiger of old and put the Open championship leaderboard on notice.

A 69 wasn't enough to get Woods in the top five of the leaderboard when he finished his round. But while this was below his old standards, it was far above expectations for someone who hasn't played a round at a major all year and is still recovering from injury. It was especially impressive after he bogeyed the first two holes and headed into the back nine at +1.

The first 10 holes of Woods' Open championship told a typical story of missed putts and slow starts. But when he got a birdie at 11, it began a hot streak that included birdies at 12, 13, 15 and 16, sandwiched between a bogey at 14. Two pars at 17 and 18 kept him from going further up the leaderboard, yet he still ended up in the top 10 and raised a few eyebrows.

Nevertheless, Woods wasn't the only big name to make a move in the early stages. The equally erratic and often equally powerful Rory McIlroy had one of his good days, with six birdies and no bogeys through the first 17 holes. It put McIlroy on top of the leaderboard as of 9 a.m. est, although he is still just as capable of shooting +6 or worse on any other day.

Other players stalking McIlroy in the opening hours of the Open championship are Jim Furyk and Sergio Garcia, who each finished at -4. Matteo Manassero finished above them at -5, while Ricky Fowler is among those below at -3. As for Phil Mickelson, he began his title defense at 9:05 a.m. est, with a daunting leaderboard already in front of him.

Both Woods and McIlroy are the early stories of the first round, yet putting together four solid rounds in a row has eluded both of them for some time. However, the possibility of them doing it is remains the scariest thing in golf.

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