Woods off the pace at Greenbrier as Singh takes lead
He overtook the legendary Jack Nicklaus' haul of tournament wins with victory at the AT&T National on Sunday but Tiger Woods will need a stellar weekend to lift his fourth PGA Tour title of 2012.
The 14-time major winner opened with a disappointing one-over-par round of 71 at the Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia, an event he only added to his schedule last week.
Woods, the former world No. 1, said he struggled to adjust to the speed of the greens at The Old White TPC course on Thursday, as he gears up for the year's third major -- the British Open at Royal Lytham and St. Annes later this month.
He was eight shots behind first-round leader Vijay Singh, and blamed his total of 31 putts for his display as he was tied for 88th in a big group of players including his old rival Phil Mickelson.
"I was a little bit off with my game, and on top of that I didn't have the speed of these greens at all," Woods told the official PGA Tour website.
"My last three tournaments, the greens were awfully quick and they have a lot of swing at the end because of how fast they are. I missed literally every single putt high today."
It is the first time Woods has played the tournament, and his four birdies were tempered by three bogeys and a double bogey.
Despite his good form in 2012, Woods' last triumph in a major came at the U.S. Open in 2008. Since then his career stalled through injury and well-documented problems in his personal life.
Woods' only practice round at the course came during Wednesday's pro-am but he refused to use that as an excuse, saying the course was set up to be attacked.
"If you get the ball on the fairway you're going to have a lot of nine iron shots or under and you can attack this golf course," he added. "Most scores are at least two under or better and most of the guys can be pretty aggressive here."
Three-time major winner Singh carded four late birdies to shoot an opening round 63 and lead by one shot from Americans Jeff Maggert, Jonathan Byrd and Martin Flores. It was his lowest round since the 2008 Deutsche Bank Championship.
"Gosh, I don't know where that came from," Singh said. "I've been playing pretty good golf for a while but just never got any scoring going.
"It's my first good round of the year, I would say, that I felt really comfortable with. It's a good way to start a tournament. I'm looking forward to the rest of the week."
U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson also had a good Thursday, opening up with 65 to sit two shots behind Singh alongside Argentina's Andres Romero and South African Garth Mulroy.
Woods' new stablemate, former top amateur Patrick Cantlay, was tied for 16th on 67 in his second professional start, one ahead of a big group including two-time major winner John Daly.
On the European Tour, Sweden's Christian Nilsson shot a round of 65 to lead the Alstom Open de France after the first round at Le Golf National near Paris -- Ryder Cup host in 2018.
Nilsson leads by one shot from Italian teenager Matteo Manassero, England's Gary Boyd, and Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee who are all on five-under.
World No. 3 Lee Westwood finished day one on one-under despite dropping four shots in the first six holes. The Englishman also played a shot on his final hole while standing in a lake after a wayward tee shot.
British Open champion Darren Clarke also recorded a round of 70 but fellow Northern Irishman and 2010 U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell slumped to a round of one-over.
Meanwhile, three Americans shared the lead after the first round of the U.S. Women's Open at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wisconsin.
Cristie Kerr, Brittany Lincicome and Lizette Salas all shot three-under 69 to be a shot clear of teenage compatriot Lexi Thompson, Jennie Lee, Japan's Ai Miyazato and and Spain's Beatriz Recari.
World No. 1 Yani Tseng carded 74 to be tied for 38th in a group including defending champion So Yeon Ryu of South Korea and American Michelle Wie.
Tiger Woods' niece Cheyenne, who qualified for the tournament soon after turning professional, was tied for 55th on 75 in a group including Australia's former world No. 1 Karrie Webb -- a two-time winner of the tournament.