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Woods injured a knee ligament and his Achilles' tendon in that tournament, and then said he returned too early at The Players Championship. He aggravated the injuries on the first hole at the TPC Sawgrass and quit after nine holes at 6-over par. He said he would not play again until he was fully healthy, and that much showed at Firestone.
There was one moment on the 17th tee when a reporter thought he saw Woods lift his left leg in a peculiar fashion.
"The marker was right in my way," Woods said with a grin.
Perhaps more telling is that Woods said he stopped putting ice on his leg and taking inflammatory medicine "a while ago," and held nothing back in his first competitive round in 84 days.
"I hadn't really gone at it yet until today," he said. "Just kind of plodding away, just kind of hitting shots. Today was just, 'Let's go, let's go play, just put everything else aside and let's go give it a go and try to post a low number."
His lone bogey came on the 14th hole, when he tried to hit a perfect bunker shot from a slightly downhill lie with the green running away from him. He came inches short of pulling it off, leaning back in disbelief. He two-putted from the collar for bogey, and then came back two holes later with a shot on the 16th that showed he might already be at full strength.
The only problem he had was controlling his distance, and Woods had a reason for that, too.
"I'm hitting it just so much more flush, and I'm just not used to that," he said. Does that mean he was hitting it badly before?
"Yeah," he said. "My swing was more of a wipey swing ... so I wasn't getting a full transfer of energy. Now I'm swinging easier. I'm not even hitting it hard yet, and that's what's fun. I'm hitting it farther without any more effort."
It took great effort to get atop the leaderboard.
Day went out early and posted a bogey-free round of 63, making birdie on the last hole. No one else from the morning group was better than a 66. And then it was Scott's turn in the afternoon. He thought 63 was a pretty low score for this South course, but then figured it was there for the taking with so many other scores in the 60s.
"I just feel like I need to get myself in these things from Thursday, show up and go, not show up and see how you get on the first nine," Scott said. "I feel like that's a good way for me to go because I'm hitting the ball well, and I feel really confident on the greens. It was green light and just attack."
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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