Woods seizes lead

CHARLOTTE: Tiger Woods fired a seven-under par 65 to seize the first-round lead on Thursday at the $6.4 million 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.

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.