Tiger returns after back surgery

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NASSAU, Bahamas: Tiger Woods impressed a world-class field after a 16-month layoff in Thursday’s (Friday in Manila) opening round of the Hero World Challenge despite double bogeys on two of the last three holes to shoot a one-over par 73.

Woods, who had not played since August 2015 after back surgery, birdied three holes in a row starting at the par-5 sixth and shared the early lead at four under after eight holes.

But bogeys on the par-5 ninth and 11th and errant tee shots that found sandy brush on 16 and water at 18 dimmed the early excitement Woods built.

“He was playing pretty good today. After that long off and not being able to play in a tournament, to come out, looks like he’s playing pretty good,” said J.B. Holmes, who fired a 64 to grab the first-round lead.

“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.”

Eighth-ranked Patrick Reed, who shot 72, played alongside Woods and liked what he saw from the 14-time major champion.

“Unfortunately it wasn’t quite the way we both wanted to play, but it was awesome to get him back out here and play golf with him,” Reed said. “The first eight holes he played really well. I was like, ‘Wow.’ He seemed like he had complete control of what he was trying to do with the golf ball.

“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. It’s good to see him, for the most part, have pretty good control.”

Woods says more rounds will help eliminate the errors that turned a solid round into a mediocre return.

“I just need to keep playing,” Woods said. “My feels need to keep coming back, seeing the shots, feeling the shots, hitting my numbers and getting all that.

“It felt good to have that adrenaline surging through the system again. It has 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, that was nice.”

AFP

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