Tiger Woods shoots 4-under 68

SYDNEY -- Not even Tiger Woods could remember the last time he played a round of golf without a bogey.

"It's been awhile," Woods said Thursday after the opening round of the Australian Open, where his 4-under-par 68 in blustery conditions left him three strokes behind Jarrod Lyle and in a tie for eighth place.

Playing in his 11th tournament of the year after missing most of the summer due to injuries, Woods managed to do at The Lakes Golf Club something he had not done since February -- keep a clean card.

Woods last played a round without a bogey during the second round of the Dubai Desert Classic on the European Tour, where he shot 66. He also shot a bogey-free 69 during his first round of the year at Torrey Pines.

"With these conditions it's very easy to make a couple of bogeys in a row and get it going the wrong way," Woods said. "I was as patient as I possibly could be. I knew there were not going to be a lot of guys in the afternoon shooting in the 60s. I was patient."

Woods got the poor end of the draw, with many of the good scores being shot in calm conditions in the morning. Among them was a 66 by Woods' U.S. Presidents Cup teammate Dustin Johnson and a 67 by captain Fred Couples. Nick Watney shot 66 in the afternoon.

Playing this event as a warmup for next week's Presidents Cup in Melbourne, Woods did not make his first birdie until the par-5 eighth. He then added birdies at the 10th, 11th and 13th holes, but failed to birdie two par-5s coming in, including the 14th green where he three-putted from long range.

Woods is trying to end a victory drought that stretches nearly two years, to the 2009 Australian Masters at Kingston Heath in Melbourne. He has a 7:25 a.m. local tee time on Friday (3:25 p.m. ET Thursday).

Bob Harig is the golf writer for ESPN.com.