2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational: Tiger Woods swings into contention with new Nike Covert driver

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Tiger Woods says his game is in great shape from tee to green.

Tiger Woods, who starred in commercials for the Covert VR_S driver before he actually used one, is a convert to Nike’s signature red club.

Woods added the club to his repertoire at Muirfield, according to Golf.com, and it appears that it’s there to stay.

"It felt great," Woods said on his website Thursday after playing himself into contention at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational with an opening-round 4-under 66. "I've been testing it for a while and was excited to put it in my bag."

Woods, who, along with the rest of the small field in the no-cut contest, is tuning up for next week’s PGA Championship, was especially pleased with his efforts off the tee.

"I feel very good about what I'm doing with basically my whole swing," he said. "I hit a lot of good shots and had a really good feel for the distance today."

After another disappointing weekend at a major two weeks ago at Muirfied, Woods returned to a comfortable track on which he has won seven times, though not since 2009. He finished T8 in 2012.

“For some reason, this course, I just see it,” Woods told reporters about his first day back at Firestone Country Club. “It’s one of those venues.”

A win this week would be his fifth PGA Tour victory of the season and No. 79 of his career, which would move him closer to all-time leader Sam Snead’s mark of 82.

By most accounts, a superlative year for the world No. 1. But there’s that major-less drought, which will hound Tiger, and his critics, until he can place that increasingly elusive 15th in the W column.

But talk of his weekend woes at majors would wait until next week. Thursday, Woods wanted to chat about his stellar play on Thursday.

He was especially happy with his recovery on his last hole of the day, the ninth.

“It was a high, hammered snap hook,” Woods explained about his tee shot that landed in the 10th fairway.

“Hey, I count it as a fairway hit,” he joked.

From there, he launched his approach over trees to the ninth green.

Woods also boasted about his work on the greens, which he struggled with mightily on the sluggish Muirfield putting surfaces.

“I thought I putted well. I had a good speed to it,” he said Thursday. “I did some good work last night, had a really good handle on the feel. Obviously it changed overnight with the rain and spent a little more time, about an extra five minutes hitting some lag putts with a little moisture on it to see what it would do. Downhill putts were quick, but uphill putts were much slower than yesterday.”

Thursday’s opener was Woods’ best first round at Firestone since 2005, one of the seven times he has won on the Tiger-friendly track.

Woods, with a 1:10 p.m. ET tee time on the first tee, will start his second round just two shots back of 18-hole leader Webb Simpson.

More golf from SB Nation:

Leaderboard updates and coverage from the week at Firestone

Tiger Woods critiques PGA Championship greens at Oak Hill

Gary Player advises Rory McIlroy on love, finding the 'right wife' to get golf game back | Rory responds

Tiger, Phil descend on Oak Hill for final major prep

Inbee Park goes for historic grand slam

Paula Creamer is doing handstands in the fairway at St. Andrews

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