Then he cracked, "A 61's pretty good. I'm not bummed."
Like a pitcher having to settle for a shutout instead of a perfect game, Woods could console himself by tying his career best and building a seven-shot lead Friday through 36 holes at the Bridgestone Invitational.
Pursuing his eighth victory at Firestone Country Club, Woods opened birdie-eagle stuffing an approach to 3 feet at the first hole and holing a 20-footer for 3 at the par-5 second. He had two more birdies on the front nine, and had four in a row to start the back nine in a light rain.
Needing to go only 2 under in his last five holes, he missed birdie putts inside 10 feet at 15 and 17. He saved par on the last with a 25-footer after an errant drive and a shot that hit into the trees and ended up in a bare spot short and right of the green.
"How about just pleased?" he said, when asked to rate the round. "I'm very happy I was able to post that. I just kept thinking, whatever lead I had, 'Let's just keep increasing it.' It's at seven now, I believe. So that's not too bad after two days."
The 61 matching his career best at the 1999 Byron Nelson, 2005 Buick Open and on the same Firestone course back in 2000 left him at 13-under 127.
Defending champion Keegan Bradley and Chris Wood, playing the tournament for the first time, were tied for second. They each shot 68.
Women's British Open
Before she can think of four in a row, Inbee Park has to figure out how to make up an eight-shot deficit at the Women's British Open at St. Andrews, Scotland.
Playing in the strongest wind this week, she had a pair of three-putt bogeys in a round of 1-over 73 that left her closer to the cut line than the lead.
The rough conditions were no problem for Na Yeon Choi. She shot a 6-under 67 the only player in the windy afternoon to break 70 and had a one-shot lead over Miki Saiki of Japan. Saiki set the Old Course record for the Women's British Open at 6-under 66 in calmer, morning conditions.
Park is trying to become the first golfer to win four straight professional majors in one year.
Mark Wiebe followed his Senior British Open playoff victory with an 8-under 64 on Friday in the 3M Championship at Blaine, Minn., to take a one-stroke lead over Kenny Perry and Corey Pavin.
Four days after beating Bernhard Langer on the fifth extra hole in a Monday finish at Royal Birkdale, Wiebe had eight birdies in a bogey-free first round at TPC Twin Cities.
Tiger Woods -13
Keegan Bradley -6
Chris Wood -6
Bill Haas -5
Henrik Stenson -5
Rory McIlroy +1
Phil Mickelson +3