It’s been a long time since we’ve seen Tiger Woods’ name atop the leader board at a major golf tournament.
The former No. 1 golfer has had a rough two years — much of it self-inflicted — both on and off the golf course. He hasn’t won a tournament since 2009, and last held a lead during the final round of the Masters this spring. So there was cause for optimism and excitement when Woods shot a 5-under-par 67 to take the lead in the first round of the Australian Open on Thursday.
"I played well today," Woods told ESPN.com. "I could have been a little lower over my first nine holes. I felt like I really didn't miss a shot. Even though I shot 5 under today, it felt like it easily could have been 8 or 9 deep.
"It feels good, but it feels good to actually be there playing properly instead of slashing the ball all over the place."
At times Woods seemed like the old Tiger and that may not be good for the rest of the field if it continues over the next 36 holes.
"He has more shots in the bag than me right now," said Jason Day, who played alongside Woods during the first round. "He hits some shots that made me go, 'Wow.' I feel that I can play a lot of different shots, but some of the shots that guy hits, especially around the greens, are amazing. He is always in control and always composed."
A full turnaround at the Australian would be huge after the season Woods has been having. He suffered a leg injury during the Masters that sent his season spiraling. He failed to make the cut of a few major tournaments and did not qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs.
There is good news for Woods off the course, too. He has signed an endorsement deal with Fuse Science, a Florida company that develops energy and nutrition products. The signing was announced Thursday, although Woods will not display the logo until next month’s Chevron World Challenge.
He has had no endorsement on his bag since AT&T dropped him nearly two years ago because of his serial adultery scandal.
Contact Terrance Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Terranceharris.
(Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)