By Larry Fine
PARAMUS, New Jersey (Reuters) - Tiger Woods fixed some swing problems before his early start at Ridgewood Country Club and came away with his best round of the year on Thursday at the Barclays tournament that opens the FedExCup playoffs.
Woods, who has struggled on and off the course this year, put together a ball-striking round that was reminiscent of his glory days with a six-under-par 65 that gave him a share of the first-round lead.
"It was a good ball-striking day," Woods told reporters. "Nice to have control."
Woods has floundered in all facets of his game this year in the stormy aftermath of the sex scandal that led to him taking five months off from golf and resulted in a divorce this week from his Swedish wife Elin Nordegren.
Winless in nine starts this season, the world number one missed the cut at Quail Hollow and had the worst four-round performance of his PGA Tour career at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational earlier this month.
Asked if his poor form was strictly a golf matter or whether it could be pegged to distractions in his personal life, Woods said: "I think it's all of the above."
At the U.S. PGA Championship following Bridgestone, Woods received some tips from Canadian swing coach Sean Foley. Last year's FedExCup winner said he continued to work with Foley last week and that helped him correct some flaws on Thursday.
"Well, it was backswing, downswing and follow through," he said about what needed fixing, drawing laughs from his audience at the media center.
Launching the tournament in the first threesome off the tee, Woods missed only one fairway all day and might have shot lower if not for two lipped-out birdie putts and a chip for par that lipped out at the 12th, where he took his only bogey against seven birdies.
"It's exciting to hit the ball flush like this again," said Woods. "It's something I've been missing all year."
(Reporting by Larry Fine, Editing by Frank Pingue)