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Cheyenne Woods fires career-low 63 as Uncle Tiger struggles at Memorial

Cheyenne Woods had a career day in the 1st round of the Manulife LPGA Classic, while it was a tale of two nines for her uncle Tiger at Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament.

Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

As Tiger Woods scuffled to a 1-over 73 in Thursday’s Memorial Tournament opener, his niece, Cheyenne Woods, was firing the round of her professional life over on the LPGA Tour.

Apparently, it was opposite day for the Woods clan. Tiger made a complete hash of his first nine holes and mounted a mini-comeback on the incoming half.

Cheyenne, on the other hand, had a nearly flawless scorecard that included eight birdies and an eagle on the ninth hole that immediately followed her lone bogey of the day.

Her first round of the Manulife LPGA Classic represented quite a turnaround for the LPGA rookie, who entered the tournament in the wake of five consecutive missed cuts.

"I played really solid all day," said Woods, who will start Friday’s second round in a three-way tie with Cristie Kerr and P.K. Kongkraphan.

The three leaders tied the Whistle Bear Golf Club record, which Matt Bettencourt and Jon Mills set in the Tour's 2005 Canadian PGA Championship.

"We were just having fun out there," Woods added. "It was very relaxed, very relaxed atmosphere while we were playing. That's sometimes when I play my best and I guess it worked out.

Not so much fun for Tiger, who, at nine shots behind co-leaders Bo Van Pelt and Hideki Matsuyama, has lots of work to do just to make the cut at the tourney he has won five times.

"I didn’t play very good at all today," he said about carding his highest opening score at the Memorial since 2002 when he shot a 74.

The 172nd-ranked player in the world played nothing like his formerly top-ranked self, making the turn at 4-over 40 and coming in with a 3-under 33.

''Physically, I feel good. Mentally, I feel beat up,'' said Woods, whose hooked first tee shot of the day led to an opening bogey. "To turn that round around like I did today ... that was hard.’'

Woods was so wild, right and left off the tee with driver, 3-wood, and 5-wood, that he lost his drive on No. 18 (his ninth hole of the day) out of bounds. His second nine started similarly, with a pulled 3-wood off the tee, but Woods was able in the second half of his day to scramble for pars and three birdies.

"I fought hard to get back," he said. "To get it back on this golf course like that, the way I was hitting it, was pretty good work."

Woods is scheduled to take the field, with playing partners Jason Day and Patrick Reed (both even-par in round one) at 1:05 p.m. ET on Friday and will continue to try to figure things out in front of his traditionally huge crowds. In the past, the throngs of people following Woods were there to watch the best in the world; now, no one — not even the PGA Tour’s marquee player — knows what to expect.

"Some of the shots I hit were really really good. But then also, I had some really bad ones too and we need to work on that and eliminate the bad ones," said Woods, who noted he was "committed" to implementing different swing motions from those he used to finish T69 at The Players Championship three weeks ago.

"I've gone through phases like this, rounds like this before in the past where it's easy to revert back and go ahead and hit some old pattern. But it doesn’t do you any good going forward,’' he said. "Sometimes it's taken me about a year and … then it kicked in and I did pretty good after that … I’ve had periods where I've played good for four or five years, where I've won close to 20 tournaments in that stretch.’’

At 39, and with his last tour victory coming at the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, "that stretch" for Tiger sure seems like a long time ago.