In his first tournament since his divorce, Woods finally looked like the No. 1 player in the world Thursday at the Barclays when he opened with 6-under-par 65, his lowest score of the year, to share the lead with Evans resident Vaughn Taylor. It was his first time leading after any round on the PGA Tour since the Tour Championship last September.
"It's exciting to hit the ball flush again," Woods said. "It's something I've been missing all year."
He didn't miss much at Ridgewood Country Club. Woods hit all but one fairway and putted for birdie on all but two holes. And while he hit his driver only twice, they were two of his best shots of the day -- including on the 291-yard fifth hole, where his drive landed pin-high and settled 15 feet away.
Was it just a coincidence that his game showed up so soon after his marriage was dissolved?
"I can't really say that's the case," he said. "As far as golf, it was nice to put it together."
Woods and Taylor both played in the morning, when the greens were smooth. They had a one-shot lead over former Louisville, Ga., resident Brian Gay, Adam Scott and Ryan Palmer.
Woods began the FedEx Cup playoffs 112th out of 125 players who qualified. He was so low down the list that he was first to tee off, the first time he's done that in his PGA Tour career.
"With fresh greens, everybody in our group was making putts on the front nine," Woods said. "You had to get it today."
And he did. The 65 was his lowest score in 46 rounds.
Taylor grinned when asked if he was surprised to see Woods' name on the leaderboard.
"Somewhat, you know? It's good to see him back up top."