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BRITISH OPEN NOTES

Tiger Woods shoots 67 with new putter at British Open

The golfer took 32 putts Thursday at St. Andrews and finished one shot off his season best. Woods is within four of leader Rory McIlroy.

July 15, 2010|By Jeff Shain

St. Andrews, Scotland — Tiger Woods took 32 putts Thursday with the new putter he brought to St. Andrews. That's more than he averaged two weeks ago with his old one.

Not that it seemed to bother Woods. Nor did it keep golf's No. 1 attraction from one of his best rounds of his post-scandal comeback.

Woods opened his quest for a St. Andrews three-peat with a five-under-par 67 — one shot off his season best and staying within four of record-setting leader Rory McIlroy.

"You had to go get it," said Woods, who by day's end found himself tied for eighth. "I felt like I did a pretty good job of that today."

Woods was poised for a bogey-free trip around the Old Course until No. 17, where a drive into thick rough left of the fairway left him unable to salvage par.

"I was trying to hit a cut [shot off the tee] and just didn't trust it," Woods said.

Even so, it was just one shot off the third-round 66 that moved him to the fringes of contention at last month's U.S. Open. Only twice has he gone lower at St. Andrews, and those were 66s as well.

As for the new Nike putter, Woods wasn't necessarily happy with its performance when a couple of early birdie opportunities didn't fall early in his round. But he felt better after a string of three straight birdies from 12-14.

"I'm very pleased with it," he said. "[The ball] comes off faster, and these greens are just the slowest I've seen in a long time."

That model replaced his Scotty Cameron flatstick, which has contributed to 13 major titles and 50 other PGA Tour victories.

Daly's day

John Daly showed up on the first tee sporting purple paisley trousers — from the line of psychedelic designs he exhibits at every stop. On Thursday, though, it wasn't the loudest thing about his appearance.

The 1995 Open champion birdied seven of his first 11 holes on the way to a six-under-par 66 that matched his best start ever at an Open. The only downside, perhaps, is that he didn't pick up any more birdies down the stretch.

"I left a lot out there," Daly said. "I put myself in a great position to really score well. It's a good score, but I left a lot out there. I'm not complaining, but … I felt like I could've been eight, nine, 10 under par."

A chance for an eighth birdie came up empty when Daly lipped out on the 15th green. He needed a dicey par save at No. 16, then bogeyed the Road Hole after his approach ran through the green and onto the cinder pathway.

jshain@orlandosentinel.com

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