Woods grabs Quail Hollow lead

CHARLOTTE: Tiger Woods fired a seven-under par 65 to seize the first-round lead Thursday at the 6.4 million-dollar Quail Hollow Championship.

Woods was two strokes in front of a quartet of players that included another US heavyweight in Phil Mickelson and Australian Robert Allenby. Jason Dufner and Steve Marino also posted 67s.

South African Retief Goosen led a group on 68 that also included Jeff Maggert, Hunter Mahan and Lucas Glover.

Woods started on the 10th, and after the turn he equalled the course record with a front-nine 30 that he finished off with three straight birdies.

Mickelson's round included a chip-in for eagle and a par save from under a video board.

"It's only one round," Mickelson said. "There's a lot of golf left." Woods could get little going in his first nine holes, failing to birdie either of the par-fives.

But he nabbed six birdies and two solid par saves on the front.

"I hit a couple of loose shots here and there, but I really putted well," Woods said. "I had a couple of key saves - made a nice little up-and-down at two and just a really good save at four that kept the round going. It's always nice when you birdie the last three." Mickelson's par to close was just as satisfying after he found a fairway bunker on 18 and pulled his shot as he attempted to avoid the creek guarding the left side.

His ball landed under a video board, Mickelson took a free drop and fired a wedge that stopped two feet from the pin.

"It's nice to finish with a par," he said. "I ended up playing a good round." Newly crowned Masters champion Angel Cabrera of Argentina carded a 70, as did defending champion Anthony Kim.

More than half of the 156-man field shot par or better at Quail Hollow, where benign rough allowed players to attack but the firm, fast greens made too much aggression dangerous.

"It's playable," Woods said. "The only thing is, it'll bait you into being more aggressive into some of these flags. You've just got to be careful on that." Mickelson enjoyed the set-up.

"I think the fans are enjoying the recovery shot, which is the most exciting shot in golf," Mickelson said. "We're having a bunch of recovery shots - at least I am - from the trees and so forth. I think that makes for exciting golf." The last time Woods led a tournament at the end of a round was on Saturday at the US Open last June.

He went on to win that title in a playoff, then had season-ending knee surgery.