Oak Hill is yielding red numbers early on Thursday, and the leaderboard is mixed with superstars and more obscure touring pros. Robert Garrigus and David Hearn are the pacesetters, getting to 4-under on their second nine and shooting for an opening round in the mid-60s.
Tiger Woods, the No. 1 player in the world and overwhelming favorite, made his way through his opening nine in bogey-free 2-under. Tiger had some mishit irons, but made up ground around the green with scrambling up-and-down saves and some steady putting. Tiger had the putter working through his first seven holes, opening with a clutch par-save from 10-feet and then dropping his second birdie of the day from about eight feet on No. 14.
It was an ideal seven-hole start to the week for Tiger, but the two toughest holes on the course, No. 17 and 18 awaited and given his iron play early, bogeys were certainly in play. Woods did miss both greens in regulation but managed to get up and down each time and walk away with two pars. At 17, he lifted it up out of some thick rough in the front of the green and on 18, he blasted out of the sand to a manageable distance for another par-saving putt. That score on those two holes should be good enough all four days this week.
As I noted earlier in the round, the putter was rolling perfectly and his speed was on point throughout his opening nine. It's comparable form to last week at Firestone where he ran away from the field:
Okay fine I'll say it - if Tiger Woods keeps putting like he did on his front nine he wins this thing by 5-8 shots.— Shane Bacon (@shanebacon) August 8, 2013
He's still chasing the lead, but if he keeps this up on the green, he'll be right there by the end of his round. Here's a current snapshot of the leaderboard early on Thursday: