Tiger Woods managed to do what Phil Mickelson didn’t think of any of the golfers with afternoon tee times would do in the British Open: he shot a 69 in the first round Thursday.

Now, though, is where it gets interesting for Woods. In his last six majors, he’s 16-over on Friday-Saturday-Sunday. He’ll get a bit of a break on the brutal Muirfield course, though, with an early tee time Friday. He’ll tee off at 4:44 a.m. EDT; 9:44 a.m. in Scotland (live on ESPN starting at 4 a.m.). Perhaps the course will be a little more forgiving.

Tiger Woods made a save from one knee on 12. (Andrew Redington / Getty Images)

“It was tough,” Woods, who is three strokes behind leader Zach Johnson, said. “The golf course progressively got more dried out and more difficult as we played. And I’m very pleased to shoot anything even par or better.”

The opening day, though, hasn’t been the problem for Woods, who has under par on the first day in five of his last six majors. Woods had a rocky start in the first round with a terrible shot off the tee and was +2 through the first six holes. But then his putting skills kicked in and he managed four birdies on the back nine.

“It was one of those courses where it just got so difficult,” Woods said, echoing Mickelson, Johnson and Ian Poulter about the increasing difficulty because of pin placements and hot, dry conditions. “Louis [Oosthuizen, who had to withdraw] got hurt, Graeme [McDonnell] was struggling a little bit. We all were playing our own games.”

Lindsey Vonn tracked Tiger Woods from afar. (Matthew Lewis / Getty Images)

What will Round 2 bring? Woods, like everyone else, has no idea.

“It all depends on what they do,” he said of the tournament’s officials, who meet each evening to discuss course conditions. “I don’t know what they’re going to do with the golf course, if they’re going to keep it dry and fast and let it get to where it is this afternoon? Are they going to put some water on it? They put some water on it in the practice rounds. When we came out this morning there was moisture on them, but they dried out in the afternoon.

“And we’re also supposed to get a different wind. It will be interesting to see what the course setup is.”

Follow @CindyBoren on Twitter and on Facebook.


Tee times | Leaderboard

Tiger Woods ‘very pleased’ with first round

Thomas Bjorn costs ESPN some money

Mickelson, Johnson, Poulter rip the course

Rory McIlroy laments his ‘brain-dead’ play

Woods, Vonn hit the links