Montgomerie fired six birdies and no bogeys in his best-ever round in the United States, but Woods, seeking his 11th victory in 21 World Golf Championship events, looked in ominous form in his round of 67.
The Scot said: "I would love to win over here, there is no secret about that. I'm 42 now and supposed to be going downhill. It's nice to go the other way."
He admitted that part of him wanted to "do a Freddie Flintoff" to celebrate his victory rather than make the long journey to the west coast of America, but there was certainly no sign of over-indulgence on the course. Starting on the 10th, the seven-times European Order of Merit winner took advantage of one of only two par-fives on the course with an opening birdie, and picked up another shot on the 12th. His round really sparked into life just before the turn, however, a birdie from seven feet on the 16th being followed by another on the par-three 17th.
A superb iron shot into the 18th made it three birdies in a row and took Montgomerie into the lead. Perhaps equally significantly, it also took the Scot well clear of his nearest rival for an eighth money list title, New Zealand's Michael Campbell, who could only manage a round of 71.
Woods was content with his opening round after recovering from a rib injury suffered during the Presidents Cup a fortnight ago. "I felt if I could shoot somewhere between two and four under par it would be pretty good," Woods said.
* Andres Romero, of Argentina, shot a five-under-par round of 66 to share the lead with the Swede Johan Skold in the Canaries Open in Tenerife yesterday. The pair were two strokes ahead of the field.Reuse content