Woods makes perfect birdie start at US PGA

Johns Creek (Georgia): Tiger Woods, hunting his first tournament victory in nearly two years, made a perfect start to the PGA Championship on Thursday with a birdie on his opening hole.

After teeing off at the par-four 10th and splitting the fairway with his drive, Woods struck a superb approach to 15 feet and calmly rolled in the right-to-left breaking putt.

The 14-times major champion watched his ball disappear into the cup as several fans shouted out: "Go in, go in".

Woods, wearing a bright pink shirt and black trousers on a sun-baked morning at Atlanta Athletic Club, gave a restrained right fist pump in celebration before another fan yelled: "He`s back".

That left the 35-year-old American two strokes off the early lead, held by Britain`s Ross Fisher who birdied the 10th, 11th and 13th in the opening round of the year`s final major.

Long-hitting American Gary Woodland was at two under after five holes, level with compatriots Nick Watney and Brendan Steele, South Korea`s Charlie Wi and British world number one Donald.

Wi had completed five holes, Steele three while Watney and Donald each had 16 holes to play.

American world number six Phil Mickelson made a surprisingly poor start on his first hole after conjuring a magical approach to just three feet at the 10th.

He three-putted from above the hole for a bogey but recovered with a birdie at the par-five 12th.

Most eyes, however, were on four-time champion Woods who made his long-awaited PGA Tour return last week after three months on the sidelines due to leg injuries.

He tied for 37th at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday after displaying erratic form but said he was "absolutely encouraged" ahead of this week.

"I`ve just got to keep playing," the former world number one said after competing in his first event since the Players Championship in May when he withdrew after just nine holes.

"It`s just something that comes over time of just playing and getting the feel for it."

The leading player of his generation, Woods has been a shadow of his former self while battling injuries and trying to rebuild his golf swing and his private life following the break up of his marriage.

Bureau Report

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