Tiger Woods roars at Memorial Tournament

Former world number one Woods, playing for the first time since missing the cut at the PGA Championship, made birdies at two of his three closing holes to stay under par.

Tiger Woods lines up a putt during the first round of The Memorial Tournament in Ohio on Thursday.   -  AFP

Tiger Woods made a solid start to the Memorial Tournament on Thursday, launching his latest tilt at Sam Snead's record for tour victories with a two-under-par 70.

Former world number one Woods, playing for the first time since missing the cut at the PGA Championship, made birdies at two of his three closing holes to stay under par.

The 43-year-old, a five-time winner at Memorial, could equal Snead's record of 82 PGA Tour wins with a victory at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio this week.

The 15-time major winner, who crowned his comeback from a nearly two-year injury layoff by winning the Masters in April, looked comfortable throughout Thursday's first round.

After teeing off on the back nine, Woods made a fast start with a birdie on the par-5 11th hole, drilling his third shot to eight feet and then draining the putt.

A bogey checked his progress on his fourth hole of the round, the 13th, before a run of nine straight pars.

A birdie followed by a bogey on the fifth and sixth holes threatened to leave Woods at level par for the day, but back-to-back birdies left him five behind early clubhouse leader Ryan Moore, who carded a seven-under 63.

A smiling Woods was satisfied with his round even though he believes he could have made better use of the soft conditions.

“It was one of those days where it could have easily flipped,” Woods said. “I feel like I could have got a few more out of it. It's so soft out there. It's definitely gettable.

“And if you look at some of the scores today, the guys are doing it.”

It was left to Moore to provide the early pyrotechnics, with the 36-year-old journeyman cutting loose with a dazzling display over the front nine of his round, reeling off four consecutive birdies to reach the turn at five under. Two more birdies and seven pars down the stretch completed a bogey-free round for the world number 79.

Moore said putting consistency had been the key to his stellar round.

He made 16 of 16 putts inside the 10-feet range on Thursday, including a birdie putt at the par-3 fourth that lipped all the way around the cup before dropping in.

“I don't think I've ever seen a ball go that far around the hole and go in,” Moore said.

“In the five to eight-foot range, they seemed to be lipping out (this season), and today they lipped in. It's always nice to get that stuff going and get the momentum and keep the momentum, just makes you feel better.”

Eagle sparks Spieth

Elsewhere Thursday, Jordan Spieth made a charge up the leaderboard to finish one behind Moore with a 64.

Spieth's round included five birdies and a brilliant eagle on the par-5 fifth hole, where he drained a 35-foot putt for a three.

Four players carded 65s to finish five under, including India's Anirban Lahiri, Australia's Marc Leishman and Germany's Martin Kaymer.