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Tiger in the hunt at Australian Masters

Tiger Woods saw his five-year reign as world number one ended by Lee Westwood last week.
Tiger Woods saw his five-year reign as world number one ended by Lee Westwood last week.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tiger Woods is four shots off the lead at the Australian Open in Melbourne
  • Australian trio Daniel Gaunt, Alistair Presnell and Adam Bland head the field on six under
  • Woods has not won a tournament since winning this event in 2009
  • Chris Wood and Bo-Kyung Kim lead at rain-affected Singapore Open

(CNN) -- Defending champion Tiger Woods shot an opening round of 69 on the first day of the Australian Masters in Melbourne to end four shots off of the Australian leading trio of Daniel Gaunt, Alistair Presnell and Adam Bland.

Woods is looking to claim his first tournament win since returning to golf after a self-imposed exile from the sport, with the world number two's last title coming at the same event last year.

The 14-time major winner -- who is looking to bounce back after losing his place at the top of golf's world rankings to Briton Lee Westwood -- was in fine form off the tee and on the fairway, but struggled with his putter to leave him two under par at the close of play.

There was a strong home showing at the Victoria Golf Club event, with state native Gaunt sharing the clubhouse lead with his compatriots on six-under.

That was probably the highest score I could have shot
--Tiger Woods
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Despite not leading, Woods was pleased with the form he had shown and thought his score was the best he could have achieved.

"That was probably the highest score I could have shot," Woods told his official website.

"I hit the ball well all day. It was just a matter of getting committed to hitting the ball a little harder on my putts. I could have easily been four, five, six-under."

Robert Allenby, one of Woods' playing partners and another Australian in the field, endured a frustrating opening round and is currently eight shots of the lead on two-over.

Spaniard Sergio Garcia is another man struggling on two-over as he continues his comeback after taking a short break from the game.

Meanwhile, the opening day's play at the Singapore Open was affected by torrential rain, with many of the 204-strong field unable to finish their first round.

Of those who did, Britain's Chris Wood and Bo-Kyung Kim of South Korea shared the early lead on eight-under-par 63, with Japan's Shigeki Maruyama next best on 64.

American world No. 4 Phil Mickelson completed a 67 to be tied with Italian teenager Matteo Manassero, while three-time major winner Padraig Harrington shot 69.