Woods senses improvements

Tiger Woods says he did not doubt his ability to perform at the Open after carding a solid first round of 69 at Hoylake.

The three-time Open champion, playing just his third competitive round of golf since undergoing back surgery in March, recovered from a bogey-bogey start to finish the day on three-under-par.

Woods' only other appearance since the operation came at the end of June, when he missed the cut at the Quicken Loans National at Congressional.

The lay-off meant he was given much longer pre-tournament odds than usual but the 38-year-old is now very much contention.

"I knew I could do it. That's why 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.

"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.

"It felt good to be back out there competing again. It wasn't exactly the best start but I still had four par fives to play. I still had a couple of the short holes. 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.

"With the forecast the next couple of days supposed to be iffy, guys aren't going to go really low here. We're going to be bunched."