It is just the fourth time Woods has opened a major at par or better in the 13 times he has played going back to 2013. So that's a positive.
Typical of his first full season since 2015 because of back surgeries, the challenge is more the number of players in front of him than the deficit he faces. "It will be a pretty packed leader board, and I'm certainly right there in it".
Zach Johnson has more than held his own. This allows the best players to shine and it reduces the complaints that seemingly mostly come because of poor green setups.
Still, Woods found the course slightly preferable on Friday, another in the chorus of varying voices stemming from the odd conditions of Thursday with its parched earth and rolling golf balls.
"I played a little bit better yesterday".
Having briefly moved into a tie for the lead with birdies on Nos. The British pro finished just one stroke behind victor Brooks Koepka (+2200) after he shot a brilliant 63 on Sunday, becoming just the sixth player to ever shoot that low at the U.S. Open.
Tiger Woods of the USA lines up a putt during the first round.
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The 42-year-old three-time Open champion - who due to back issues had missed the last two editions - admitted afterwards he was suffering from a sore neck but insisted it had not affected his round too much. He called the crowds "incredible" and "fantastic", and in some sense those crowds included one of the two men playing alongside Woods.
At just 27 years old, Tommy Fleetwood (+2200) is still looking for his first ever PGA Tour win. In a rare known case of male athletic candour, he confessed straightway it had affected him on Thursday.
"Everyone acts like this is the first time I've been bandaged up". We're going to go tier-by-tier in terms of player prices and look at the options that are available that you might consider. The result is just the byproduct of all the little things you do to lead up to that.
"Greg (Norman) was there at Birkdale, I think about 54-ish, somewhere around there, 53, 54". He's definitely the person I looked up to. "He's a person which I've seen on the range in the past and, I mean, he's nearly like a mythical figure".
The one shot Woods would like to have back was the 13th, where he made a 15-foot putt for par. But he had another poor finish, closing bogey-double bogey for a 72 and is at 6-over 148 for 36 holes.
McIlroy also did his utmost to stay in the moment, parking any negative thoughts over whether he would have preferred to be on the other side of the draw, or what is to come, and just "got on with it". "And I think that's the fun challenge of it". We chatted away. He was nice to me. "I've accepted that this is going to be, most likely, the last one". He's Tiger Woods for a reason.
"He hit it good, " said Russell Knox, a Scotsman playing in his home country who shot 73 while grouped with Woods for the first time. "And if the wind allows me to be more aggressive, then, obviously, I get it down there".