Colin Montgomerie was thrilled to get an invitation from Tiger Woods to play in his year-end tournament with 15 of the best players in golf. Even better was matching Woods' score...

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THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Colin Montgomerie was thrilled to get an invitation from Tiger Woods to play in his year-end tournament with 15 of the best players in golf. Even better was matching Woods’ score.


Montgomerie hit a 5-wood into about 8 feet for eagle on the 16th hole, giving him a 4-under-par 67 and a share of the lead yesterday with Woods and Jim Furyk after the first round of the Target World Challenge.


Seattle native Fred Couples was one shot back.


“I played quite well,” Montgomerie said. “Anytime you can equal Tiger Woods, well, that’s OK.”


Woods and Furyk didn’t do anything quite so dramatic. They just kept out of trouble and avoided the kind of mistakes that knocked Chris DiMarco out of the lead twice and sent Vijay Singh to a 3-over 74, matching the worst round on a pristine day at Sherwood Country Club.


Woods overcame a sluggish start with a 5-iron out of the damp rough and under a tree that came within inches of going into the hole at No. 4. That left him a tap-in birdie.


Furyk was among three players who had the outright lead on the back nine until he missed the 18th green, chipped to 12 feet and watched his par putt turn away just at the end.


All of them have something to play for in a tournament that doesn’t count.


Woods failed to win a stroke-play event on the PGA Tour for the first time in his career and lost his No. 1 ranking to Singh, but recently said his swing changes were coming together. He won in Japan last month and sees this tournament as another building block for next year.


“I’m making some great strides,” he said.


Furyk had surgery on his left wrist in March, missed the first half of the season and failed to win on the PGA Tour for the first time since 1997. Not even a victory at Target or the $1.25 million check — the largest in the United States — can make up for that.


And then there’s Monty.


He has tumbled to No. 79 in the world rankings — one spot behind Youn-Eun Yang of South Korea — in part because of a very public divorce from his wife this summer.




Notes


Bruce McDonald of Zimbabwe shot a 6-under 66 to take a one-shot lead over South Africa’s Ernie Els at the PGA European Tour’s Dunhill Championship in Malelane, South Africa.


• Two-time champion Bradley Hughes of Australia shot an 8-under 64 to take a two-stroke lead at the Australian Masters in Melbourne.