December 01, 2016

Tiger finishes with 73 in Round 1 at Hero World Challenge

Tiger Woods is back in the game and has plenty to feel good about.

Returning to competitive golf for the first time in nearly 16 months, Woods shot a 1-over 73 on Thursday in the first round of the $3.5 million Hero World Challenge at Albany in warm and breezy New Providence, Bahamas.

Although he topped only Justin Rose in the elite 18-player tournament that includes six of the top-10 golfers in the world, it was a positive start. Woods toured the front nine in 3-under 33, carding consecutive birdies at Nos. 6, 7 and 8, and was once tied for the lead at 4-under.

“It felt good,” Woods said. “I felt the feel of the round by the second hole. Unfortunately, hit three in the bushes and had a water ball, so consequently, I let a really good round slip away at the end.”

Tiger double-bogeyed Nos. 16 and 18.

“I just made some really silly mistakes I don’t normally make,” Woods said. “But I haven’t played in a while. I can clean that up. We’ve got three more days.”

His last tournament round came 466 days earlier at the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina. After opening with 64-65, he wound up at 13-under 267 and tied for 10th, four strokes behind winner Davis Love III.

Since then, Tiger has undergone two back surgeries and revamped his training, swing and equipment. He has spent considerable time riding a bike and swimming, but is still getting into walking shape.

Admittedly, he tired Thursday in the warm temperatures. But Woods’ comeback had to start somewhere and he loved being back in the heat of the battle.

“It felt good to have that adrenaline surging through the system again,” he said. “It’s been a long time. To get up there on that first hole and feel it again and then dumb it down to be able to control it and get into my feel where I play my best, that was nice. I got it pretty quick.”

Paired with Patrick Reed, Tiger parred the first two holes, then posted the first of five birdies, making a nice up-and-down from behind the green at the par-5 third. Even with a bogey at the par-5 ninth, he still turned in 33.

The back nine was a struggle, especially off the tee. Woods pulled several shots left and kept his round going with deft scrambling. He reached the green on the par-5 15th hole in two with a 7-iron and two-putted for a birdie from 15 feet to surge to 3-under, but stumbled at the par-4 16th and 18th.

On the day, Tiger hit six of 13 fairways, 11 of 18 greens and used 26 putts.

“His swing looked good,” Reed said. “When he hit it well, it was really, really good, and when you mishit it … they weren’t very good misses. But at the end of day, to take off as much time as he had and come back and be his first competitive round, it was good to see.”

Dressed in black, Woods used TaylorMade woods, old Nike blade irons, a Scotty Cameron putter that has produced 13 of his 14 major victories and a Bridgestone ball.

Needless to say, he has been the center of attention this week. Woods is a five-time winner of the event and the tournament host, with proceeds benefitting the Tiger Woods Foundation.

“He’s still just turning every head when he walks into the dining area,” two-time major winner Jordan Spieth said. “Or if he’s on the driving range, I mean everybody’s looking up to see him hit some shots.”

According to Reed, Tiger is on the right track.

“He’s close,” Reed said. “He’s really close.”

On Friday, Woods is scheduled to tee off at 11:12 a.m. ET with Rose.