Tiger Woods put himself in position to end a forgettable year on a triumphant note by charging one shot clear in the Chevron World Challenge first round on Thursday.
Seeking his first victory of 2010 after becoming engulfed in a torrid sex scandal at the end of last season, tournament host Woods fired a sparkling seven-under-par 65 at Sherwood Country Club.
Although he recorded his only bogey at the par-four last after pushing his tee shot behind a tree, he matched his lowest score of the year to finish one shot ahead of Britons Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell.
"To get the lead here, you`ve got to play the par-fives well and today I played them well," Woods said in a greenside interview after recording birdies on each of the five par-fives.
"I played solid all day. I didn`t really make any putts. I made just one putt today. It`s kind of interesting."
Woods opened with a 65 at the PGA Tour`s Barclays tournament in August and fired another 65 in the second round of the Deutsche Bank Championship the following week.
He also recorded a 65 in the final round of last month`s Australian Masters.
Playing in his own charity event for the first time in three years, world number two Woods birdied four of the first nine holes in bright winter sunshine to reach the turn in four-under 32
He picked up further shots at the 10th, 11th, 13th and 16th to lead by one before his cushion was doubled when U.S. Open champion McDowell bogeyed the tricky 18th.
Woods then pushed his tee shot well right at the last, hacked out on to the fairway with his second and struck his third on to the bottom tier of the green before two-putting for a five.
"It was a lack of commitment," Woods said of his tee shot on 18. "I couldn`t really commit to hitting a low fade off the tee there and hit a pop-up."
The former world number one has struggled on and off the course since his private life unravelled at the end of last season amid sordid revelations of serial philandering.
He took a five-month break from the game in an ultimately unsuccessful bid to repair his marriage and embarked on the fourth swing change of his career in August.