Tiger Woods steadied his creaking back nine with three straight pars in the final holes to shoot an even-par 71 in his opening round at Carnoustie.
Playing his first British Open since 2015, Woods birdied two of his first four holes and was 2 under after picking up another shot at No. 11.
The 14-time major champion bogeyed Nos. 13 and 15, then scrambled well to par his way home.
Woods was five shots off the lead held by Kevin Kisner.
Woods arrived for his round with two pieces of tape on his neck but downplayed any concerns. "It's no big deal," he said, "you've just got to play."
Carnoustie brought Brooks Koepka to his knees amid a testing stretch of holes for the U.S. Open champion on the front nine at the British Open.
Just when it looked like his game was unraveling, Koepka bounced back.
The No. 4-ranked American reached the turn in 41 but rallied with a stunning 31 on the back nine for a 1-over 72, which left him six shots off leader Kevin Kisner.
The low point of Koepka's round came on the eighth hole, when he needed three shots to get out of a pot bunker. He attempted one of the shots from outside the bunker with both knees on the ground.
Koepka made five birdies and one bogey coming home.
At first, the Iceman struggled to keep cool at the British Open.
Haraldur Magnus, the first man from Iceland to play at a major golf championship, said "every muscle and bone in my body was shaking" when he took his opening tee shot at Carnoustie.
But after reaching the turn in 4 over, Magnus had one of the best back nines of the first round and finished birdie-birdie for a 1-over 72.
"There were quite a few Icelanders going crazy," the 27-year-old Magnus said of his supporters out on the course. "Some of them have been coming here for 10 years so this is a big deal for them.
"I holed a few good putts and I could definitely hear them making some noise. That was exciting because this is my World Cup."
Magnus quit playing soccer to focus on golf at the age of 15.
Tiger Woods was the last player to win the U.S. Open and the British Open in the same year, 2000. At this rate, that doesn't look to change.
U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is spending way too much time in all the wrong places.
Koepka, who became the first player in 29 years to win back-to-back in the U.S. Open, made his second double bogey at the British Open when he took three shots to get out of a bunker on the par-3 eighth, starting with one shot from his knees because the ball was so close to the edge.
He had to play another bunker shot with one knee on the grass because of a similar lie on No. 6.
On the fifth hole, he missed the green so far to the right that workers had to lift TV cables for him to putt under from some 100 feet away. And then he three-putted for double bogey.
It added up to 4-over par through eight holes, and Carnoustie wasn't getting any easier.
Tiger Woods returned to the British Open with a birdie.
Woods teed off to a rousing ovation on the first tee at Carnoustie, wearing a pair of kinesiology tape strips on the back of his neck because of soreness. He fired an iron down the crispy fairway and a wedge that settled 8 feet left of the cup that he made for birdie.
The last time he was seen at the Open, Woods shot 75 at St. Andrews to miss the cut. It was a much better start than his last major, where Woods opened with a triple bogey in the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills last month.
Kevin Kisner has set the early target of 5-under 66, one shot ahead of Erik Van Rooyen of South Africa and Tony Finau.
Defending champion Jordan Spieth ran into trouble late to stumble to a first round 1-over 72 at the British Open.
Spieth was contending for the lead before dropping four shots to par on the final four holes. The round left him six shots behind early first round-leader Kevin Kisner.
Spieth, who won last year at Royal Birkdale in a final round showdown with Matt Kuchar, was 3 under and bogey free when he hit his second shot on 15 into the sand. His third was left into the rough and he ended up missing a 25-footer to make double bogey.
Spieth would go on to bogey the next hole and added a final bogey on No. 18 when he hit his driver into the water.
Kevin Kisner hit fewer than half the fairways and found 50 percent of the greens in regulation in his first round at the British Open. It was his putting that took him atop the leaderboard on 5 under.
Kisner had only 22 putts, comfortably the fewest so far at Carnoustie, and said he was happy to see the greens quicker than he has usually found them at British Opens.
"Every year I've come over ... every time I have to hit a putt, I feel I lose conscious of the line and don't start on the line," he said. "But this week, they're not as slow as they have been."
This is Kisner's fourth appearance at golf's oldest major. His best result is a tie for 54th at Royal Birkdale last year.
Americans have won the last five majors.
Carnoustie is widely known to have the toughest closing holes on the British Open rotation, and it's proving the case in this first round.
The first eight groups have finished and there have been only two birdies between the 24 players on Nos. 16-18. The aggregate score over those three holes was 28 over.
They have been playing in what likely will be the best conditions of the day, too.
Kevin Kisner of the United States has just made par saves on each of the final three holes and signed for a 5-under 66, giving him a one-shot lead in the clubhouse.
Erik Van Rooyen enjoyed his first round at a British Open - except for the final hole.
The 28-year-old South African went out at 6:46 a.m. in the second group and has set the clubhouse target after a 4-under 67. The only shot the Open rookie dropped came at the last after he found a bunker with his drive.
Van Rooyen has recent form on the links: He was the 54-hole leader at the Irish Open two weeks ago and finished tied for fourth.
He could soon have company from Jordan Spieth, whose iron play has been excellent early in his round. The defending champion birdied the second, rolled in another birdie from 4 feet at No. 4, and was 2 under after five holes.
Sandy Lyle, who hit the first shot of this 147th British Open, finished bogey-bogey for a 75.
Danny Willett hasn't had a victory since surprisingly winning the Masters in 2016, and he's trying to put that right at the British Open.
After opening his first round with a bogey, Willett has rolled in five birdies to reach 4 under after 13 holes, tied for the lead with Erik Van Rooyen.
A mixture of injuries and a swing change saw Willett plunge from inside the world's top 10 to outside the top 400. He's currently No. 320.
Jordan Spieth has started his defense of the claret jug, sending an iron down the left of the first fairway and just short of a bunker. He is trying to become the fifth player in the last 50 years to win back-to-back in the British Open.
The wind remains light, but is forecast to pick up in the afternoon.
That nickname "Car-Nasty" might be taking a hit in the opening round of the British Open.
Carnoustie already is dry and fast with wispy rough. It's not getting much help from the wind, either. Conditions were benign enough that Sandy Lyle made the turn in 1 under. The 60-year-old Scot hit the opening tee shot.
Erik Van Rooyen of South Africa was the first player to reach 3 under with his birdie on the par-5 fifth. Former Masters champion Danny Willett also had three birdies in six holes, though he opened with a bogey.
Defending champion Jordan Spieth plays in the morning. Tiger Woods plays this afternoon in his return to the Open for the first time since 2015.
Sandy Lyle of Scotland sent a mid-iron rolling along the crusty turf of Carnoustie to start the 147th playing of the British Open.
Lyle was chosen to hit the opening tee shot Thursday morning under a gray sky off the North Sea. He won the Open in 1985. Also in the opening group was two-time major champion Martin Kaymer and Andy Sullivan. They faced a course that was more yellow than green because of the unusually dry summer in Scotland.
Carnoustie has been called "Car-Nasty" in recent Opens because it is considered the toughest links in the Open rotation. This year's championship was more of a mystery going into the first round. Fast conditions are difficult, but being so dry means the rough is thin and wispy.
Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.