HOYLAKE, England (AP) — On a day when Tiger Woods returned to the majors, there was an Italian flair to the British Open leaderboard.
Matteo Manassero took advantage of prime scoring conditions to shoot a 5-under 67 at Royal Liverpool, while brothers Edoardo and Francesco Molinari opened with matching 68s on Thursday.
"I saw the leaderboard," said Francesco, the younger of the siblings. "But it's a tough course, so you have to focus on what you are doing rather than the others are doing — even if it's your brother. "
Playing in his first major championship since back surgery, Woods got off to a shaky start with bogeys at the first two holes.
Then he settled down, looking more like the player who romped to victory the last time golf's oldest major was held at this course along the Irish Sea.
There were plenty of red numbers on a day made for going low — warm and sunny with only a slight breeze rippling the flags. Woods was among them, pushing his score to 2 under with a stretch of four birdies in five holes on the back side.
Manassero made only one bogey and shot 4-under 33 after the turn, taking advantage of a quirk in the course which puts three par-5s in the closing nine. He birdied them all.
Two-time major champion Rory McIlroy got off to another strong start, his score at 5 under and two of the par-5s still to play. Now the challenge is to hold it together on Friday, which has been a problem all year. McIlroy's cumulative score in the second round is 15 over.
Jim Furyk and Brooks Koepka also opened with 68s. Sweden's Robert Karlsson, Marc Leishman of Australia and Japan's Koumei Oda were another shot back after shooting 69.
"I didn't play fantastic, but the course is out there to make some birdies on," said Karlsson, who teed off in the first group of the day at 6:25 a.m.