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Tiger returns to the tee

2023-12-01 HKT 08:54
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  • Woods said he was taxed physically by the end of the round. Photo: AP
    Woods said he was taxed physically by the end of the round. Photo: AP
Tiger Woods struggled late to fire a three-over par 75 on Thursday in the opening round of the Hero World Challenge, his first competitive round since the Masters last April.

The 15-time major winner followed birdies with bogeys three times in the first 12 holes at Albany Golf Club in the Bahamas before closing with a double bogey at 15, bogeys at 16 and 17 and a par at the 18th hole.

While Woods stood 18th in the field of 20, Americans Brian Harman and Tony Finau shared the lead with 67s and three-time major winner Jordan Spieth was another stroke adrift.

Woods, who turns 48 on December 30, has struggled since suffering severe leg injuries in a 2021 car crash but says he feels well enough to play once a month in 2024.

Woods was hungry to get back into competition, even at a 20-player invitational rather than a US PGA Tour event.

"I felt like I was ready to compete and play. I hit it solid most of the day," Woods said. "I just didn't mentally do the things I normally would do and I need to do. I still hit it solid, but I hit it crooked."

Woods birdied the par-5 third before a bogey at the fourth then birdied the par-3 fifth before a bogey at the par-5 sixth and birdied the par-5 11th before a bogey at the par-3 12th, then made a birdie at 14 before his closing woes.

"I got off to a decent start. I didn't play the par-5s all that well," Woods said. "Now I know mentally what I need to do better.

"Physically I knew I was going to be OK. Mentally, I was really rusty and made a lot of errors in the mind that normally I don't make." (AFP)

Tiger returns to the tee