Tiger Woods shoots 3-under 69 in return at Hero World Challenge

NASSAU, BAHAMAS - NOVEMBER 30: Tiger Woods of the United States lines up a putt on the second green during the first round of the Hero World Challenge at Albany, Bahamas on November 30, 2017 in Nassau, Bahamas. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Tiger Woods shoots 3-under 69 in return at Hero World Challenge

PGA Tour

Tiger Woods shoots 3-under 69 in return at Hero World Challenge

Tiger Woods knows how to create excitement, and he did just that with an opening 3-under 69 at the Hero World Challenge.

Woods made his competitive return to golf Thursday at Albany Golf Course in New Providence, and he did so with flair in finishing the round just three back (of Tommy Fleetwood) when he posted in the clubhouse. While the round wasn’t perfect, there was plenty to like.

The 41-year-old got things started by hitting the green in two at the par-5 third and two-putting for birdie to move to 1 under. He then made a mess of the fourth with a poor chip but drained an 18-footer for par to stay 1 under.

A 25-footer at the eighth moved him to 2 under before a bad bogey at the par-5 ninth (another bad chip, a first putt that ran 10 feet by and a missed comebacker). Woods came back by making a 12-footer for birdie at No. 10. That moved him back to 2 under, and he made two putts inside 10 feet at the next two for par to stay 2 under.

Woods reached 4 under and was one off the lead after back-to-back birdies at Nos. 13 and 14. But just when it seemed he might reach the top, Woods hit one way right off the tee at the par-5 15th, took an unplayable and made bogey.

He would close with three straight pars, including rolling in an 8-footer at the last, to finish out his round at 3 under. For the day, Woods hit 7 of 13 fairways and 12 of 18 greens and took 28 putts.

He posted five birdies against two bogeys – both of which came at par 5s. Surprisingly, Woods was 3 under despite playing the five par 5s in 1 over.

Overall, this was quite promising.

The 14-time major champion definitely could improve on his short game, as evidenced by those two stubbed chips at Nos. 4 and 9. Woods also deliberately chipped one well by the hole at No. 11 as he didn’t feel confident in trying an aggressive shot short-sided (possibly a reaction to his earlier misfires).

But he hit the driver really well (7 of 13 fairways doesn’t do matters justice) and produced a lot of beautiful approach shots. His putter was solid all day, saving him a couple of times and really getting him going at points.

Woods seriously did not look like a guy who last played competitive golf roughly 10 months ago in February. He tied fellow competitor Justin Thomas, the 2016-17 PGA Tour Player of the Year, for the day and held up against a stacked field.

Let’s not take too much from 18 holes, but this was a phenomenal start.

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