The smile was back on Tiger Woods's face as he hit it 'flush' while carding an encouraging two-under-par 68 on his long-awaited return to competition at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on Thursday.
Back on the PGA Tour for the first time in three months after missing the last two Majors because of leg injuries, Woods parred his first nine holes in the opening round before igniting after the turn.
He reeled off successive birdies from the 10th, dropped his only shot at the 14th where his approach ended up in the back greenside bunker and holed an outrageous 31-footer for another birdie at the 16th.
The 14-times major winner then parred the last two holes on the heavily tree-lined layout at Firestone Country Club to end a hot and humid afternoon six strokes behind pacesetting Australian Adam Scott at joint 18th.
"It feels great," Woods told reporters after returning to a venue where he has already triumphed a record seven times. "As anybody who's been off and who's been injured, first time back, it's a little nervous to see what happens.
"But my practice sessions were good so there was no reason why I should be worried out there. I just let it go, let it rip. I was hitting it so flush that the ball was just going. As Darren (Clarke) would say, I hit some proper shots out there."
Atwal tied 18th
Arjun Atwal made a strong start with a two-under 68 to be placed at tied 18th. Atwal opened with a bogey before he managed to steady himself with pars till he got a birdie on seventh. But a bogey on ninth saw him turn in one-over.