Tiger Woods was not feeling it on Thursday. (Ian Walton/Reuters)

Tiger Woods winced on his initial tee shot of the British Open on Thursday, and his facial expressions rarely ventured far afield of dour as his round progressed at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland. Battling weather that was alternately rainy and sunny but almost always breezy — and an unfamiliar, undulating course that would pose a challenge to anyone, much less a 43-year-old with a history of serious back problems — Woods shot a 7-over-par 78 that left him well off the pace, one year after he tied for sixth at the Open Championship and three months after his stirring Masters win at Augusta.

American journeyman J.B. Holmes topped the leader board as of late Thursday, his 5-under 66 one stroke better than the 67 Shane Lowry of Ireland recorded early in the day.

After beginning his round with four straight pars, Woods’s problems started at the fifth hole when he left a birdie putt badly short and walked away with a bogey. A double bogey was next at No. 6, with Woods skying the ball over the green twice. And then his greatest misadventure of the day, an extended stay in the rough down the left-hand side of the par-5 seventh hole that somehow ended in only a bogey.

Woods did not seem to have any sort of recovery in him, and four more bogeys would follow. When he did manage to find the right side of par for his lone birdie at No. 15, Woods raised his arms in mock celebration, a weary acknowledgment of the bad day he was trudging through.

He left the course with one of the worst rounds of the day, and will need a massive rally in Friday’s second round to stick around for the weekend.

After Holmes and Lowry, a large group of contenders was clustered two shots back at 3 under par, including well-known players like Webb Simpson, Sergio Garcia, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Tony Finau and Jon Rahm.

Relive Woods’s round, hole by hole

Hole 18 (par 4, 462 yards)

Royal Portrush’s finishing hole is the second-longest par-4 No. 18 in the British Open rotation behind Carnoustie and was playing as the second-toughest hole on the course Thursday. The ideal tee shot is left of the fairway to get a view of the green, but Woods pushed his first shot too far left into the rough with a not-great lie. His second shot stayed left in the rough, and his chip did not spin back, leaving a lengthy par putt that skated right. One final bogey on a day full of them.

Result: bogey

Score: 7 over par

Hole 17 (par 4, 398 yards)

Another fairway off the tee and Woods found the green with his approach, which was blind, but he left himself another long birdie putt that he couldn’t convert.

Result: par

Score: 6 over par

Elsewhere: Jon Rahm bogeyed No. 15, meaning J.B. Holmes is your leader in the clubhouse at 5 under.

Hole 16 (par 3, 222 yards)

It’s Calamity Corner at Royal Portrush, with a deep ravine down the right side, rough down the left and only six birdies by the time Woods and Co. go to the hole. Tiger’s tee shot overshot the green by a bit and rolled down into a collection area, but considering where it could have gone, it was in good shape. No harm done.

Result: par

Score: 6 over par

Elsewhere: J.B. Holmes, who finished third at the 2016 British Open but missed the cut in three of his last four majors, joined Jon Rahm atop the leader board at 5 under par with a birdie at 18. Rahm is a few groups behind Woods’s group.

Hole 15 (par 4, 426 yards)

Woods’s problems for the most part haven’t been off the tee, and he again found the fairway here. Then, as has been the case for much of the day, Woods’s approach was simply not sharp and he left himself a birdie putt that did not seem realistic. This time, however, Woods’s aim was true and he had his first birdie of a very trying round, raising his arms in mock celebration after it dropped.

Tiger Woods celebrates a birdie. (Jon Super/AP)

Result: birdie

Bogey: 6 over par

Elsewhere: Jon Rahm has regained the lead by himself, rebounding from a bogey at No. 11 with a birdie at No. 12 to get back to 5 under.

Hole 14 (par 4, 458 yards)

Woods got the easy part of No. 14 out of the way, putting his tee shot squarely in the fairway. But taking aim at a difficult, humped green where everything trickles off the front, Woods sent his approach into the left-side bunker, well below the green. He got out of it and onto the putting surface but left himself a long par putt, which he missed.

Result: bogey

Score: 7 over par

Hole 13 (par 3, 194 yards)

Woods pulled off his best shot of the day off the tee, leaving himself a fairly straightforward 10 to 12 feet for birdie. But once again, it slipped past the hole. The birdie drought continues with a demoralizing par.

Result: par

Score: 6 over par

Hole 12 (par 5, 532 yards)

The last par 5 Woods will see Thursday — and the second-easiest hole on the course — got off to a good start with a solid tee shot. But just as he’s done throughout this increasingly grim round, Woods followed up something good with something bad: a second shot into the rough near the green. A nice chip gave Woods perhaps his best chance at birdie all day, but his putt skated past the hole.

Result: par

Score: 6 over par

Elsewhere: Brooks Koepka finished at 3 under par to establish himself near the lead, as is usually the case at a major. Is this good? This seems good:

Hole 11 (par 4, 452 yards)

The last thing a struggling player like Woods wants to see is the toughest hole on the course, but that’s exactly what he faced at No. 11: Two-time British Open champion Padraig Harrington once described the tee shot as the most difficult in golf. Woods found the fairway with no problem but was visibly disgusted with his approach, which ended up well left of the hole (but on the green). He then bashed his long birdie putt past the hole but was able to save the par.

Result: par

Score: 6 over par

Hole 10 (par 4, 447 yards)

A terrible approach from the first cut left Woods with a delicate chip from the rough, above the hole, and Woods had no choice to send the ball well past lest it funnel into a dip on the green. The 10-footer was not on line, and things are getting ugly.

Result: bogey

Score: 6 over par

Elsewhere: Jon Rahm birdied each of the final three holes of the front nine and now sits alone atop the leader board at 5 under par.

Hole 9 (par 4, 427 yards)

It’s back to the rough to close out the front nine, with Woods’s tee shot again left of the fairway and his ball well above his feet. His second shot barely got off the ground and only moved forward about 15 yards, but his third shot found the green and gave him at least a reasonable chance at saving par. Alas, the 20-footer was short, and it’s four bogeys in five holes.

Result: bogey

Score: 5 over par

Elsewhere: Jon Rahm and links powerhouse Tyrrell Hatton have joined Brooks Koepka and Shane Lowry atop the leader board at 4 under par. Meanwhile, Ryan Fox had a record-setting back nine, shooting a 29. The New Zealand native finished his day at 3 under par, within sight of the lead.

Hole 8 (par 4, 423 yards)

The sun was shining again, and so was Woods off the tee: He found the right side of the fairway after the follies at the last hole. A good-enough approach gave him a chance at birdie, but Woods didn’t get enough on his uphill, right-to-left 30-footer. Nevertheless, the bleeding has stopped, at least temporarily.

Result: par

Score: 4 over par

Hole 7 (par 5, 592 yards)

The rain returned, just in time for Woods to send his tee shot left of the fairway. His second shot, an attempt to lay up, wasn’t an improvement and stayed in the rough on the left side, directly behind a rather large mound, which he then hit on his third shot. His fourth shot, still from the rough and in an awful lie, finally found the fairway, though he was only able to advance it about 40 yards. Finally availing himself of a normal shot, Woods hit a masterful pitch to within three feet. He’s extremely luck to save bogey. But still, this is a disastrous stretch.

Result: bogey

Score: 4 over par

Elsewhere: Brooks Koepka, to absolutely no one’s surprise, is atop the leader board at a major. He has four birdies and no bogeys to get to 4 under after 14 holes, tied with Shane Lowry.

Hole 6 (par 3, 194 yards)

Heading back into the persistent wind that’s gusting to nearly 20 mph, Woods airmailed his tee shot past the green and down a hill on the back left. He then again put way too much on his chip and it skied over the green again and into an entirely separate valley on the opposite side. Popping his chip into and over the side of a hill, Woods gave himself about five feet for bogey, but his save attempt skidded past to the left.

Result: double bogey

Score: 3 over par

Elsewhere: Shane Lowry’s 4-under 67, carded much earlier in the day, has held up as the day’s best round. A number of big names are right behind him at 3 under, including Brooks Koepka and Tommy Fleetwood, both of whom still have some holes to play.

Hole 5 (par 4, 374 yards)

There was a time when Woods would have been able to drive the green at this short par 4, playing as the third-easiest hole on the course, but his tee shot was 86 yards short of the hole on the right side of the fairway and he left his approach well behind the hole. Woods then seemed to misjudge his birdie putt, leaving it well short, and he couldn’t convert the 12-footer for par. It’s a bogey, his first of the day.

Result: bogey

Score: 1 over par

Tiger Woods walks toward the tee during his first round. (Jon Super/AP)

Hole 4 (par 4, 482 yards)

After another prolonged round of stretching, Woods threaded the bunkers into a nice spot in the left-center of the fairway, perfectly positioned 170 yards from the hole. His approach was hole high, but the 20-footer floated past. Another par.

Weather update: It both rained and was sunny on this hole.

Result: par

Score: even par

Elsewhere: Much earlier, Emiliano Grillo had what’s been the shot of the day so far.

Hole No. 3 (par 3, 177 yards)

Woods gave himself a good chance at birdie on his first par 3 of the tournament, his tee shot bounding off the top ridge of a green-fronting bunker and rolling to about 10 feet. But his putt skimmed off the side of the hole and it’s three straight pars to start.

Result: par

Score: even par

Hole No. 2 (par 5, 574 yards)

It’s another errant tee shot at the second — currently playing as the easiest hole on the course — as Woods found a right-side bunker. He hacked it out onto the fairway, giving him about 235 yards to the hole with the wind at his back, and his third shot set him up about a 20-foot birdie putt. But Woods couldn’t navigate the big right-to-left hook and it’s another par.

And now the sun is out again. Gotta love the British Open.

Result: par

Score: even par

Hole No. 1 (par 4, 421 yards)

After limbering up, the three-time British Open champion seemed to wince after his tee shot, which went left into the rough. Whether it’s because Woods’s notoriously bad back is acting up or the placement of the shot remains to be seen. With the wind at his back, his second shot didn’t make it up the front of the uphill green and trickled back into the deep bunker on the front left. A nice wedge out of the sand gave him about 12 feet to overcome, and he sank it for what has to be a very relieving par to open.

The rain has returned, by the way.

Woods, for what it’s worth, was given +2900 odds to win by Oddschecker.

Result: par

Score: even par

Elsewhere: Rory McIlroy finished a disastrous first round with a triple bogey and an 8-over 79.


Thursday-Friday: Golf Channel, 1:30 a.m.-4 p.m.

Saturday: Golf Channel, 5-7 a.m.; NBC, 7 a.m.-3 p.m.

Sunday: Golf Channel, 4-7 a.m.; NBC, 7 a.m.-2 p.m.


Streaming will be available throughout the tournament via the Golf Channel and NBC Sports apps and at GolfChannel.com. Multiple marquee groups will get their own feeds along with coverage from hole Nos. 5-7.

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