By Julian Linden
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Reuters) - Tiger Woods struggled in his second comeback tournament on Thursday, limping to an opening two-over-par 74 at the Quail Hollow Championship.
The world number one displayed all the rustiness expected of someone who had spent five months out of the game until the U.S. Masters three weeks ago, carding four bogeys and a double bogey to finish nine shots behind first round leader Bo Van Pelt (65).
"It was a terrible day to begin with," said Woods, who was playing his first event since finishing joint fourth at the Masters.
"I didn't hit the ball very good at all," he told reporters.
While Woods commanded most attention, fellow American Van Pelt stormed to a seven-under-par 65 with a flawless round featuring seven birdies.
Van Pelt, who claimed his first PGA Tour win at the Milwaukee Championship last year, has struggled with his putting in 2010.
He has tried 10 different blades this year before finally deciding to refurbish the putter he used when he won in July.
"I was temporarily insane for about eight weeks," said Van Pelt.
"I was changing putters all the time and trying new stuff and finally went back to an old putter I had used for about four and a half years that I won with last year.
"I guess I've got a lot of good feelings with that putter so it was just good to have it back in my hands," he added.
Perry reached seven-under when he eagled the par five seventh, his 16th hole, but bogeyed the next to surrender a share of the lead.
U.S. Masters champion Phil Mickelson shot a 70 less than 24 hours after requiring an intravenous drip to participate in the tournament. The American withdrew from the Wednesday pro-am complaining of dehydration.
He pointed out that the last time he was sick, in Miami last year, he won the WGC-CA Championship.
"The last two times I've fainted and woken up in a pool of vomit, I've won," said Mickelson. the other victory coming in San Diego in 2001.
Woods made a bright start with a birdie at the 10th, his opening hole, but dropped four strokes around the turn after finding water off the tee at the 17th and 18th.
"I hit a bunch of balls left, I hit a bunch of balls right, hit a few down the middle and that was about it," said the 14-times major winner.
Despite his erratic tee shots and unplanned excursions off the fairway, Woods fared better than Parker McLachlin who ballooned to a 16-over-par 88 that included a 12 on the seventh hole.
McLachlin put four balls in the water at the par-five seventh to equal the worst score on a PGA Tour hole this year.
(Editing by Patrick Johnston)