PONTE VEDRA BEACH (Florida) (AFP) Tiger Woods made a shaky start but improved as the day progressed to shoot a decent two-under-par 70 in the first round at the Players Championship on Thursday. Woods, trying to rebound after missing the cut at the Quail Hollow Championship last week by a whopping eight strokes, was clearly still not at his best as he sailed his tee shot at the first hole into the left rough. But it was nonetheless a confidence-boosting performance after his pathetic 79 in the second round in Charlotte last Friday. I was building towards this, said Woods, who trailed leaders Robert Allenby and JB Holmes by four strokes at the Sawgrass TPC. Yesterday I had a really good day, really good practice session afterwards and felt like I was headed in the right direction for today. Still, Woods was only 37th after a day of low scoring in benign conditions and he will need to shoot no worse than par in Fridays second round to be certain of making the cut. He appeared on his way to his first bogey-free round at Sawgrass, only to draw a five-wood into the water hazard left of the 18th fairway for a closing bogey, an error he blamed on the wind. Woods clearly has read some of the recent reports about the state of his game. Ive done some good work this week, even though reports are I was hitting it all over the lot, but I was working on a few things, and I was very excited about what was happening. Ive played six rounds in about seven months, he added. People need to be realistic. Woods is playing just his third tournament since ending a five-month self-imposed absence as he dealt with the fallout from the revelations of multiple marital fidelities. The scandal cost him some of his sponsors and tarnished his personal reputation, while his wife, Elin, has been reported by multiple media outlets to be on the verge of filing for divorce. Although Woods returned to play with a tie for fourth place at the Masters, he acknowledged earlier this week that trying to whip his game - and his life - back into shape while under the microscope was difficult. Ive been trying to make life adjustments and make life changes, he said. A lot of people, when they go through treatment, theyre able to make these adjustments in anonymity. Im not. And that makes it a lot more difficult. Adding to the pressure coming into the Players was the fact that his world number one ranking could be in jeopardy. Masters champion Phil Mickelson had a shot at claiming the top spot - ending Woods 264-week reign - with a victory, so long as Woods finished outside the top five. Mickelson also carded a 70 on Thursday. Woods continued to deny Thursday that he has severed ties with instructor Hank Haney. Hank and I talk every day, so nothing has changed. According to the press, Ive fired him five times over the course of six years. Notably, though, Woods used the word I when talking about his work this week.