Tiger purrs as Woods earns share of Zozo lead with stunning 64
Tiger Woods delivered a masterclass as the 15-time major champion earned a share of the lead after round one at the Zozo Championship.
American superstar Woods rode a birdie spree to card a stunning six-under-par 64 and join Gary Woodland atop the leaderboard on Thursday.
Featuring at the first official PGA Tour tournament held in Japan, Woods endured a nightmare start at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club, where the former world number one found water after his opening tee shot.
Another shot went into the trees as Masters champion Woods was left reeling at three over through just three holes in Inzai, Chiba.
However, Woods, who underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his left knee to repair minor cartilage damage in August, produced a remarkable recovery, making nine birdies over the ensuing 15 holes to catapult himself up the standings.
"I certainly was not expecting to shoot six under after that start,'' said Woods following his career-low season-opening round. "That was a very ugly start.
"To be able to flip it like that, I felt if I could get to under par for that, I figure most of the guys would be about two, three under par with the wind blowing as hard as it was today, that I wouldn't be that far behind. It flipped and I got hot and made a bunch of putts.''
Woods and fellow American Woodland held a one-shot lead over Japan's Hideki Matsuyama, who birdied the last to reduce the deficit heading into day two of the inaugural event, while Daniel Berger, Sung Kang and Ryan Palmer were tied at three under.
Justin Thomas – fresh off his CJ Cup triumph in South Korea last week – posted an even-par 70.
Thomas had three birdies and as many bogeys to be in an eight-way tie for 25th, alongside the likes of Sergio Garcia and Danny Lee.
It was a tough start for four-time major winner and FedEx Cup champion Rory McIlroy, who shot a 72 to be eight shots off the pace, while Jason Day was a stroke worse off at three over and Jordan Spieth stood four over.