Kisner first round leader in benign Open conditions

For a few hours at a sun-drenched Carnoustie on Thursday it felt like 2000 all over again, or 2005 or 2006 as Tiger Woods rolled back the years and captivated a heaving British Open gallery.

Woods' mood could perhaps be explained by his failure to recapture the form many associate with the successful golfer, who became the first athlete to earn over a billion dollars in his career in 2009.

Woods birdied the first and fourth holes and missed the good opportunity at the sixth, a 5-footer.

"If I just clean up those two holes and play them the way I'm supposed to play them with 8-iron in my hand, I think I'd probably have the best round in the afternoon wave".

And then - well, that story is starting to look a little familiar lately, too. This came after concerns about his neck - he was seen sporting two strips of black kinesiology tape before teeing off. Everything is going straight up in the air, but this is very different.

Playing in the most hard conditions of the day, Woods' progress was stalled by two late bogeys as he settled for an even-par 71 that left him five shots off the lead at The Open.

The first round of The Open is finishing up at Carnoustie in Scotland.

But it did nothing to change the state of Woods' latest comeback, which remains stalled deep into the golf season. Just when he shows flashes of the greatness of the past, Woods follows it with mediocrity.

And that might be the worst possible outcome anyone - especially Woods - wants to see at this time of year.

"I've been doing this for years, braces and bandages, just that this time it's actually visible", he said. "I had an 8-iron to 6 and looking like I could really do something here".

Even so, no one could really low.

Rory McIlroy is well in contention as he fired a brilliant 69 to finish the opening round at two under par, and just three shots off the lead.

Kevin Kisner of the US plays a shot on the 15th hole during the first round of the British Open Golf Championship in Carnoustie, Scotland on Thursday.

Spectators who had forked out 80 pounds ($104) for admission feared disappointment when Woods turned up wearing a therapeutic tape on an apparently stiff neck, but he later downplayed the significance of it.

The stark reality is that Woods is now ranked 71 in the world, won the last of his 14 majors a decade ago and has not triumphed at any tournament since 2013. "I pretty much wore them out today", he said.

Tiger Woods lines up a putt on the 18th green during his even-round 71 on Thursday.

Knox admitted he was in awe of Woods, something that may have caused him to struggle early on his way to a 73.

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