Sport

Holmes takes one-shot lead as Woods returns at Hero World Challenge

Share
Comeback Tiger Woods hits from a greenside bunker on the 14th during round one of the Hero World Challenge at Albany

Fomer world number one Woods, who has fallen to 898th in the rankings, birdied the par-5 third and sixth, par-4 seventh and par-3 eighth holes at 7,302-yard Albany Golf Club in his first competitive round since August 2015.

"I did a little bit of work for probably 12 holes or so".

The Hero World Challenge presents the stiffest challenge on so many levels, starting with the fact it was two back surgeries that kept him out for 15 months, an injury that left him so debilitated that at times he wondered if he had played his last tournament.

But the birdie blitz stopped on the par-five ninth when Woods fluffed a green-side chip shot and made bogey. Or, you can focus on the bad, that he's 40, that he was +5 in his final 10 holes, and that he's in 17th place in a tournament with just 18 golfers.

Holmes fired an eight-under 64 to seize a one-stroke lead over Maruyama after Thursday's first round of the 18-man Bahamas invitational. "It's been a long time". I've always been pretty good at hitting the ball pin high.

The next step is not allowing a good round to bleed away like he did Thursday. His iron play looked particularly crisp except for one poor approach on 16. On 18, sitting 1-under, he pulled out driver when he didn't need to and ... deposited in the water on the left, then almost drained his par chip on the fly - a mix of good, bad and bad luck, all on one hole.

But overall, it felt like Woods played better than his score indicated.

As he made his way to the first tee for his first competitive shot in 466 days, Tiger Woods breezed right by the Golf Channel reporter Notah Begay, his former Stanford teammate and good friend. He bogeyed 16 from the middle of the fairway after hitting a terrific tee shot and then making a mess from there.

"I just made a couple of mistakes out there on the par fives". But I haven't played in a while. Would I like to play a full schedule every year for the next decade plus? I can clean that up. "But at the end of the day it's about seeing good shots, getting comfortable with some new equipment and just showing signs that there's light at the end of the tunnel, especially going forward in 2017".

Next April will mark 20 years since Woods won his first major crown at the 1997 Masters, setting a course record at 21 with a dominating display that humbled a world-class field, ignited "Tiger-mania" and helped push revamping and lengthening at Augusta National.

The event is more than ideal for a comeback after so many months out of the game since Woods is the host of the Hero World Challenge and his charity, the Tiger Woods Foundation, benefits from it financially. He hit only 6-of-14 fairways and it hurt him.

"Can't wait to get back out there and mix it up with the boys", Woods tweeted two hours before his opening tee shot. If you are driving it great here, you can take advantage of this golf course.

"I'm sitting in front of you guys with a different reality because things have improved so much that I'm able to come back here and do this again", he said.

"I was able to hit all the shots I needed to hit", he said. "I felt like I kept it together nicely".

Share