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Tiger Woods returns with promise but stumbles in Hero World Challenge opener

Posted : 01 December 2023

In his much-anticipated return to tournament golf after a 236-day hiatus, Tiger Woods displayed glimpses of promise in the first round of the Hero World Challenge, hosted by himself in the Bahamas. The five-time winner of the event, competing for the first time since withdrawing from the Masters in May, encountered a rollercoaster round. Playing alongside friend Justin Thomas in the 20-player invitational field, Woods carded four birdies and five bogeys.


Despite reaching 1 under on four occasions, Woods faced a setback on the par-5 15th hole with a wayward drive that found itself under a bush. Opting not to take an unplayable lie, he attempted to advance the ball but ended up having to play backward into the fairway. This misstep led to consecutive bogeys on the 16th and 17th holes, leaving him at 3 over for the round.


Reflecting on his performance, Woods admitted to feeling rusty, attributing it to challenging early conditions. Although he hung on through the difficulties, he acknowledged the failure to finish the round strong. Woods currently sits eight shots behind leaders Brian Harman and Tony Finau, both carding 5-under 67s. Jordan Spieth is one shot back at 4 under, propelled by two eagles, while defending champion Viktor Hovland struggled with a 1-over 73.


Having undergone surgery for plantar fasciitis earlier in the year, Woods expressed readiness for the physical demands of the tournament. Despite hitting 10 of 18 greens in regulation, he struggled to scramble for par and needed 30 putts to complete the round. Woods highlighted a lack of commitment in the middle part of his round, affecting crucial shot selections. Walking with a slight limp, he looks forward to improvement in the upcoming second round.


"I'm a little bit sore, that's for sure," Woods remarked, indicating preparations for the next round. Eager to refine his performance, he expressed determination to rebound in the tournament, recognizing the areas that need attention before hitting the course again.


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