Woods is eight strokes behind Singh in W.Va.
White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. -- After a rugged week of hard and fast at Congressional Country Club, PGA Tour players took it soft and slow at a mountain retreat four hours to the southwest on Thursday.
In the opening round of the Greenbrier Classic, more than half the players in the field shot 70 or better, led by 49-year-old Vijay Singh, who fired a 7-under 63 to take a one-stroke lead over Jonathan Byrd, Martin Flores and Jeff Maggert. The low scores were courtesy of Greenbrier's Old White TPC Course -- one of the easiest on the PGA Tour -- softened by rains this week.
The conditions didn't agree, however, with the two biggest names in the field. Tiger Woods, winner Sunday at the AT&T National, took 31 putts on his way to a 1-over 71. Phil Mickelson three-putted twice from inside 15 feet, also shooting a 71.
"I just don't have the speed of these things," Woods said of the greens. "[Congressional] was one of the fastest golf courses we played."
Woods made a double-bogey 7 at No. 17, hitting his tee shot into a lake and three-putting as he missed from 25 inches. In the final round of the AT&T National on Sunday, Woods made all 16 of his putts inside 10 feet.
"The golf course is definitely a course you could tear apart today. The greens are firm but slow," Woods said. "I missed every -- literally every -- single putt high today. I never hit one that missed on the low side."
In his own threesome, Woods was outplayed by U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson (65) and Steve Stricker (69), who was aided by his wife, Nicki, who served as a fill-in caddie.
The slow greens were perfect for Singh, who shot 18 strokes better than he did Sunday at the AT&T National. His 81 in the final round at Congressional was his worst since 2006. Four days later, Singh shot his best round since winning the 2008 Deutsche Bank Championship.
"Gosh, I don't know where that came from," Singh said. "I've been playing pretty good golf for a while but just never got any scoring going."
Singh took just 25 putts Thursday. After an indifferent start, Singh birdied six of the last eight holes and carded a 6-under 30 on Greenbrier's back nine. It would have been a 29 and five straight birdies to close had Singh made a 6-footer at No. 14.
"The greens are receptive to good shots," Singh said. "If you hit good shots to the pin, they're going to stop. They're not running like they did on Tuesday before the rains came."
Fittingly, Singh's strong play came at a course where the legendary Sam Snead was former pro. Snead's 17 PGA Tour victories after turning age 40 was a record until it was broken by Singh, who has 22 victories after turning 40 but none since winning the FedEx Cup in 2008. This week, however, the gentle resort course at Greenbrier might have the slow pace that suits his game.
"I've been expecting it for a while, but it never showed up," Singh said. "I don't feel tired. I feel energized. I've been working really hard on my game, so it's nice to see something happen."