Tiger Woods made a bright start to his US PGA Championship quest as he headed out in esteemed company with Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth.
The star trio played to a bumper early-morning gallery at Southern Hills, Tulsa, where Woods won his fourth and most recent US PGA Championship title in 2007.
Woods had a birdie at his first hole and was one under through three holes, with Spieth and McIlroy soon joining him on that mark.
Starting at the 10th hole, all three began well off the tee, with Woods receiving by far the loudest reception and hitting the longest drive of the trio at 339 yards.
"Do you mind giving me some breathing space please. Back off a little bit," Woods said towards a camera crew as he walked down the first fairway.
He fired a sweet wedge to three feet away from the hole and made no mistake from that range, holing for an immediate birdie.
Woods found the heart of the green at the short 11th, his second, and sent his putt to just six inches away, tapping in for par.
He had a birdie chance at 12 from around 20 feet away but pushed it just right of the hole. McIlroy and Spieth made their first gains at that hole.
-1 thru 1. pic.twitter.com/jKCHJciLbQ— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 19, 2022
Speaking on Tuesday, Woods said he could "definitely" be a title contender, despite this being just his second tournament back since the February 2021 car crash that saw him sustain serious leg and foot injuries. He made the cut at the Masters last month, before fading as the hilly Augusta course took a physical toll on the 46-year-old former world number one.
"My team did just an amazing job just to get me to a point where I could play the Masters and I was able to have that opportunity to play," Woods said. "Right after each round, it was like getting back to the house and we have an ice bath ready for you, and off you go, get on the treatment table and let's keep working at it, keep things going, and it was tough. It was hard. It was hard on all of us.
"But I've gotten stronger since then. But still, it's still going to be sore and walking is a challenge. I can hit golf balls, but the challenge is walking. It's going to be that way for the foreseeable future for sure."
John Daly, the 1991 US PGA champion, was two under through seven holes and held a share of the lead with Robert MacIntyre, Max Homa, Y.E. Yang, Xander Schauffele and Will Zalatoris early in the first round.