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Below-par Tiger grinds way to opening 72

ESPN staff
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Tiger Woods was not at his best but grinded his way to a 72 © PA Photos
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Tiger Woods dug deep to salvage an opening 72 despite not being at his best during the first round of the AT & T National.

Woods, who was victorious at the tournament the last time it was played at Congressional in 2009, recently admitted his short game was not at the level it needed to be, and his concerns were validated after another poor showing with both wedge and putter.

There were moments to savour - having bogeyed the fourth he fired an approach to three feet on the ninth, where he duly converted for a birdie. The brilliance did not show itself consistently, however, as an errant tee shot at 11 put him out of position and, although he did well to give himself a chance of making par, his putt rolled agonisingly past the cup.

With a rusty short game, Woods, seeking his third PGA Tour title of the year, was never going to trouble those further up the leaderboard, but he has at least posted a score on which to build.

Bo Van Pelt leads the way, though he is hardly running away with it - his four-under 67 was as good as it got for anyone. A solitary birdie on the back nine, where he started, put him in a good place and he used it as a springboard to drain an eagle and a birdie in a bogey-free round.

Vijay Singh is leading the chase, finishing the day one shot adrift of Van Pelt on three-under, where he sits alongside Brendon de Jonge and Jimmy Walker.

Hunter Mahan is on one-under following a battling 70, while Australia's Jason Day is in contention having signed for a two-under 69. K.J. Choi and Adam Scott endured disappointing days, finishing on eight over and four over respectively.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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