It isn't just spectators who stick to Woods on his way around the course.

After a fine shot on the par-four 12th, which would yield another birdie, Woods strode over the brow of the hill with a cavalcade of cameramen, photographers and reporters in tow.

Perhaps this is why he can appear emotionless and steely while walking the links --- it's simply his method of blocking out the circus that follows his every move.

A expertly-struck shot on 13 carved a path through the steadily building wind thrown up from the River Dee and set up another chance.

The bellow that communicated its success underscored the joy those present felt at capturing their own slice of Woods magic firsthand.

A wayward approach to the 14th resulted in a dropped shot, reclaimed immediately at 15.

And by the time a delicate chip on the 16th tiptoed towards the hole and offered a tap-in for birdie, Woods had made a blitz of five in six holes.

Pars followed on 17 and 18, when he was clearly irritated again by an eager photographer's trigger finger, but his final tally of three-under was more than had looked likely after that inauspicious beginning.

"I didn't get off to the best of starts but I turned it round," he said.

"The forecast the next few days is supposed to be iffy -- guys aren't going to go over and above.

"There's a ton of players between two and four under par and that is the way I think this championship is going to unfold."

One brave journalist ventured that it had felt like "old times" as the American went on his run of five birdies in six, a statement that was met with a roll of the eyes and the reply: "It wasn't that long ago."

But the signs are promising. Not only did Woods turn things around, he also reported feeling fitter each day after the back surgery that sidelined him for four months.

"I'm getting stronger, I'm getting faster, I'm getting more explosive and the ball is starting to travel again -- those are all positive things," he added. "It felt good to be out there competing again."

With that Woods left a crowded press tent and made a beeline for the practice range.

"I thought he'd be taller than that," a punter said as Woods bustled past.

Give it a few days and he just might be.