Playing in his first major tournament in 11 months and four months after back surgery, Tiger Woods made an impressive account of himself Thursday in the first round of the Open Championship at Hoylake, shooting a 3-under 69 on a day ripe for scoring.Woods had told the gathered media that he was healthy and getting stronger and expected to play well this week. He started the round with a pair of bogeys. Not good. But, as he has all his illustrious career, Woods stayed the course and ran off four birdies in a five-hole stretch on the back nine.“I knew I could do it,” Woods said. “That’s why I was telling you guys it was so important for me to play at Congressional. The fact that I was able to recover every day, and the fact that I was stronger, more explosive the more days I played.“I’m only going to get better from that point. And I’m getting stronger, I’m getting faster, I’m getting more explosive. The ball is starting to travel again. And those are all positive things.”Woods made a significant save for par on No. 4, an eight-footer after another poor putt, and that seemed to settle him down as he birdied the fifth and played the first nine in 1-over 36.Woods failed to birdie the par-5 10th, but holed a putt from off the green for a birdie at the 11th, the start of four birdies in five holes. A bogey at the 14th was the result of one of the four fairways he missed, but he rebounded to birdie the next two.An opportunity to get another at the par-5 18th was derailed by an approach shot into a greenside pot bunker that left Woods with an awkward stance. Prior to the shot, he stopped in mid-swing due to the sound of cameras clicking.“I’ve had numerous years of dealing with this,” Woods said. “There’s a lot of moving parts out there. And you’ve just got to stay focused and plod my way around.”Woods did a good job of that. He said he wasn’t nervous, that playing at Congressional last month helped him get some of that out of the way.If anything, Woods was perturbed he didn’t do better. When asked if it was like the old days, Woods quipped: “It wasn’t that long ago. I won five times last year.”Hitting mostly irons off tees — he did use a driver on the 16th hole just as he did during his 2006 victory here, the only one he used for the tournament — Woods hit 10 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens.Still, it’s just one day, albeit a strong one. He ended the day three shots behind leader Rory McElroy, who did not bogey in a round of 66.“Pretty much everything,” Woods said when asked about what he needs to improve on moving forward. “I need to get everything a little bit better. That’s the case all of time, anyways. But at Congressional, I made just some terrible mistakes mentally. My decisions weren’t very crisp and I wasn’t decisive enough. Today was totally different. And consequently I shot a better score.”

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