Lytham St Annes: Tiger Woods, with a steely glint in his eye, made four birdies in the opening nine holes to grab a share of the early lead in the British Open first round on Thursday.

The former world number one played beautifully controlled golf to birdie the first, fourth, sixth and seventh in calm conditions at Lytham to get his bid for a 15th major championship, and first for four years, off to the perfect start.

Also going well in the early stages of the 141st Open was Australian Adam Scott who joined Woods at four under with four birdies in seven holes around the turn.

US Masters champion Bubba Watson birdied the seventh and eighth to move to three under, level with former U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell who was inches away from a hole in one at the ninth.

Scotland's Paul Lawrie, the 1999 British Open champion, made three successive birdies from the third before dropping a shot at the eighth to slip back to two under.

Woods calmly birdied the par-three first, picked up another shot with a snaking 20-foot effort on the fourth and pinpoint approaches at the sixth and seventh set up further birdie chances which he converted with immaculate putts.

World number three Lee Westwood made a fast start with birdies on the opening two holes but the Englishman, wearing the red cross of St George on his gleaming white shoes, then double-bogeyed the third.

But a birdie at the ninth took him back to one under.

England's Matthew Baldwin and Brazilian Adilson Da Silva were the early clubhouse leaders with one-under-par rounds of 69.

World number one Luke Donald is among the late starters alongside four-times major champion Phil Mickelson and Australian Geoff Ogilvy.


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