Woods struggles mightily in first round

PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland — The excitement that always surrounds Tiger Woods even brought out the hired help near the fourth hole at Royal Portrush.

They couldn’t help his sore back, or his soaring score at the British Open.

The Masters champion, a three-time winner on the links courses of the only major in Europe, shot a 7-over 78 on Thursday, his highest first-round score at the tournament and second highest opening at any of the four biggest events in golf.

“I hit a lot of missed shots. They were all left,” said Woods, wearing black rain pants and a gray sweater on a day of wet and windy weather. “Wasn’t hitting it solid. Everything was off the heel.”

Woods started the day with the usual cheers and howls as he stepped up on the first tee. They followed him through an opening shot that went left, but he ended up safely making par. A kid in a tiger suit onesie smiled broadly as Woods headed for the second tee.

The shouts and screams followed the 15-time major winner for the next few holes as Woods held it together, even saving par out of a bunker on No. 2.

“I’m just not moving as well as I’d like. And unfortunately, you’ve got to be able to move, and especially under these conditions, shape the golf ball. And I didn’t do it,” Woods said.