Lowery on top in Michigan

Steve Lowery took the opening-round lead at the Buick Open in Michigan this morning as Tiger Woods made a slow start to his first tournament since the missing the cut at the Open Championship.

Steve Lowery took the opening-round lead at the Buick Open in Michigan this morning as Tiger Woods made a slow start to his first tournament since the missing the cut at the Open Championship.

Early-starting American Lowery posted an opening-round 63 at the par-72, 7,127-yard Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club in Grand Blanc to lead the early starters.

His nine-under-par score was enough to hold off the afternoon wave also and Lowery will go into the second round with a one-stroke lead over Australia's John Senden, who shot a 64.

He is eight ahead of world number one Woods, who posted a scrappy one-under 71 that featured four birdies and three bogeys on a course he has twice won and twice finished runner-up on.

"Just one of those days," Woods said. "I've not only got to play well to make the cut, I've got to play well to get myself back into contention too.

"I've got to go low because the guys are going to continue to go low.

"This is the way the golf course is playing right now this week. It's probably going to be 20-plus (under par) that's going to win the tournament.

"I have to take advantage of the holes I'm supposed to take advantage of, a couple of the par fours, handle those and then sprinkle in a few more here and there and I'll come up with the number I'll need to come up with."

Lowery played the back nine first and made the turn at two under par before changing up a gear on his inward nine of 29 for a 10-birdie, one-bogey round of 63.

"I putted obviously really well to shoot nine under, but the last nine holes I made all the putts, made seven birdies there on the last nine holes," Lowery said.

"Some of them were tap-ins, but some of them were pretty good. The one on eight was probably about 20 feet or something like that. So good combination."

Australia's James Nitties, South Korea's Y E Yang and Americans Vaughn Taylor and Brian Vranesh carded 65s to take a share of third place, while 2010 US Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin was one of six players a further shot back on six-under.

Also shooting 66s alongside 49-year-old Pavin were fellow Americans Paul Goydos, Jeff Klauk, Troy Matteson, Chris DiMarco and Australian Greg Chalmers, while there were 11 players in a tie for 13th place at five-under, just four shots behind Lowery.

At Turnberry earlier this month, Woods missed the cut for only the fifth time in his professional career, and he was embarking on a three-week stint on the PGA Tour which will take in the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational and the US PGA Championship, the final Major of the year.

He bogeyed the par-fours at the second and fifth, on both occasions his putting letting him down. He three-putted from inside 12 feet at the second while at the fifth, having overshot the green with his second shot he failed to convert a par putt from inside six feet.

Four birdies followed in the middle of the round before a bogey sent the world number back again at the 15th.

A missed birdie opportunity on the par-five 16th, the easiest hole on the course, did not lighten the mood and Woods came home in 71.

Four birdies over his last 10 holes got England's Greg Owen to four under par with an opening 68, while world number nine Jim Furyk, the only top-10 ranked player in the field other than Woods, shot an opening, three-under 69.

Fredrik Jacobson of Sweden and US Open runner-up David Duval, who is looking to make his first cut since that Bethpage Black finish in mid-June, did likewise.

Scotland's Martin Laird and Daniel Chopra of Sweden finished at one under following 71s to complete the European contingent.

John Daly will also have plenty of work to do if he is to avoid a second consecutive missed cut after shooting a four-over 76.

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