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HOYLAKE, England – Tiger Woods stood on the third tee at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Thursday's first round of the 143rd British Open with bogeys on his first two holes.

He was far from worried.

Despite playing his first major in 11 months and having just two competitive rounds under his belt in the last four months because of back surgery March 31, the former world No. 1 knew it wasn't time to press.

His patience paid off as he stormed back with five birdies in six holes on the back nine under brilliant skies and fired a 3-under-par 69 to grab a piece of the front page of the leaderboard, ending at 3 under par . Rory McIlroy leads at 6 under.

"I still had four par-5s to play. I still had a couple of the short holes," said Woods, who is chasing his 15th major title and first since winning the 2008 U.S. Open. "I'm not going to be the only guy in a 72-hole event to make two bogeys. I just got mine out of the way early.

" … I felt good about a lot of things I did out there today. Especially coming back after that start I had, to fight myself back into the championship.

"I feel pretty good about it."

Woods, who won the Open here in 2006, also had a 15th club in his bag during the first round – his confidence.

Any doubt about his game and his recovery from the back surgery was erased at Congressional Country Club two weeks ago when he missed the cut in the Quicken Loans Invitational.

"I've been telling you guys it was so important for me to play at Congressional," Woods said. "The fact that I was able to recover every day, and the fact that I was stronger, more explosive the more days I played. I'm only going to get better from that point. And I'm getting stronger, I'm getting faster, I'm getting more explosive. The ball is starting to travel again.

"And those are all positive things."

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