Golf: Late slump but Woods finishes opening round

Tiger Woods hitting his tee shot on the third hole in round one of the Hero World Challenge. He showed glimpses of his old self, sharing the lead after eight holes.
Tiger Woods hitting his tee shot on the third hole in round one of the Hero World Challenge. He showed glimpses of his old self, sharing the lead after eight holes.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Two double bogeys in final three holes spoil round for golf star on injury return

NASSAU (The Bahamas) • Tiger Woods made up for lost time by cramming most things into his first round for more than 15 months. The comeback was neither triumph nor calamity but a torrid finish left him at one-over 73 at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.

"I let a good round slip away," he said. At least he finished.

The 14-time Major winner and world No. 898 had a share of the lead after eight holes, but he hit rocks, sand and water in the final holes, which is fine if you are making cement but not if you want to come back with a bang.

Four dropped shots in the final three holes meant that when he finished, only Justin Rose was below him in the 18-man field.

"It felt good," Woods insisted. "You can't simulate the surge of adrenaline come tournament time."

He had started so well. His outward nine of 33 was impressive and his chipping was largely good enough to banish concerns about the yips.

  • TIGER WOODS' ROLLER- COASTER RETURN

    THREE HOLES
    -1

    SIX HOLES
    -2

    SEVEN HOLES
    -3

    EIGHT HOLES
    -4

    NINE HOLES
    -3

    11 HOLES
    -2

    15 HOLES
    -3

    16 HOLES
    -1

    18 HOLES
    +1

ABSENCE WAS MISSED

He was playing pretty good today. It's great to have him back. He has been gone a while and he definitely brings a lot more to our sport. Nice to see him.

J.B. HOLMES, the opening-round leader, welcoming Tiger Woods' long-awaited return.

STILL IN GOOD SHAPE

The first eight holes he played really well. I was like, 'Wow'. He seemed like he had complete control. There were just a couple loose swings here and there. He needs to tighten some things up, too, but it's awesome to have him back.

PATRICK REED, who is on level-par 72, on Woods' form.

Sadly for a sport craving a rebirth, he wilted and messed it all up. On the 16th he pulled his second shot and had to play backwards on his way to a double bogey.

He found water at the 18th, made the drop, hit the flag and took two putts from 15 feet for another double.

"I hit it in three bushes and had a water ball," Woods said later.

"So it could have been something really good. It was a solid start, I just made a few mistakes and things started going the wrong way. I let a good round slip away at the end.

"I had some awkward shots out there. But, all in all, I feel pretty good. I am looking forward to another three days out here."

Had he lasted the pace and had his putting been on, then a crowd craving the old days may have failed to cope.

Of course, it is only one round of four and Woods' problem has been stringing good days together.

This one had five birdies and some scattergun drives, but, clad in feline black, he showed only fleeting signs of the vulnerability that he flagged last month.

Indeed, when he moved into the share of the lead at four under after eight holes, Twitter was debating his Masters chances.

That was premature but it shows the love. The players feel the same, the United States team surprising their vice-captain at the Ryder Cup by unzipping their patriotic onesies, a horrible image, to reveal "Make Tiger Great Again" T-shirts.

And there were good specifics to take away as well. Woods' iron play on this, his first time with a competition card in his hand for 466 days, was controlled.

He showed no signs of physical discomfort at all, which will always be a significant factor after multiple back surgeries.

At the 14th there was a classic Woods moment. Having found wasteland from the tee and then a green-side bunker with his second shot, the most famous golfer of a generation was faced with a putt from the fringe to save par. He duly rolled it in before pumping the air - such moments were once standard for Woods.

The Hero World Challenge's propensity to produce low scores continued.

J.B. Holmes leads the way after day one, having recorded a 64. The Open champion, Henrik Stenson, signed for a 67, with Jordan Spieth's 68 notable for two chip-ins.

With Woods 17th in an 18-man field, Rose at least offered him some cause to smile. The Englishman surprisingly slipped to a 74.

THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN

HERO WORLD CHALLENGE

Day 3: StarHub Ch204, tomorrow, 1am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 03, 2016, with the headline 'Late slump but Woods finishes'. Print Edition | Subscribe