Tiger Tracker: Woods three back after Round 1

Tiger Woods watches his tee shot on the second hole during the first round of the Chevron World Challenge at Sherwood Country Club.

Tiger Woods watches his tee shot on the second hole during the first round of the Chevron World Challenge at Sherwood Country Club.

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THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – K.J. Choi and Tiger Woods did most of their work before the wind arrived Thursday at the Chevron World Challenge.

Choi birdied his opening five holes at Sherwood Country Club, then held on in gusts up to 30 mph for a 6-under 66 that gave him a three-shot lead over Woods and Steve Stricker at the final official tournament in America this year.

Perhaps it's no surprise that the top three players all dealt with the wind at the Presidents Cup in Australia. For Choi, he has become used to such conditions after moving to Dallas.

Choi and Woods will be paired in the second round, teeing off at 10:50 a.m. PST - the day's final pairing.

Only three other players managed to break par.

Woods, the tournament host, birdied four of his first five holes and looked as good as he did during a two-week swing Down Under.

– Associated Press

Hole 18: Par 4, 444 yards

Tiger finds the center of the fairway at the difficult 18th, site of all the drama during the 2010 tournament.

Woods finds the back of the green at the 18th and will have about 30 feet left for his birdie. He misses his birdie putt low and taps in for par, the finishing touch on a 3-under 69.

Meanwhile, Stricker drops in a lengthy two-tier birdie putt at the finishing hole to also shoot 69.

ROUND 1: 3-UNDER 69

Hole 17: Par 3, 166 yards

Tiger leaves the ball below the hole at the par-3 17th and will have a look at birdie from 20 feet. Woods rolls in the birdie with pace to spare and moves back within two shots of K.J. Choi's lead. He's back in a share for second with Steve Stricker, as Matt Kuchar made a 7 at the par-5 16th.

Through No. 17: 3 under

Hole 16: Par 5, 567 yards

Playing a 3-wood off the tee, Woods gets a bit steep and hits a pop-up tee shot. It does, however, find the middle of the fairway.

His layup was pulled left into a dirt patch, leaving Woods only the option to chip-out sideways. Tiger's fourth shot comes up short, leaving him with a complaint about the wind changing. He'll have a good 20 feet left to save par.

Woods' par attempt is left short and he taps in for bogey to move back to 2 under. The very forgettable back nine continues.

Through No. 16: 2 under

Hole 15: Par 3, 189 yards

Tiger will have a difficult second shot upcoming after leaving his tee ball well long and left. He'll have to land his next shot on a downslope and will have a tough time judging the speed.

Tiger goes right underneath the flop shot attempt, advancing it only about 10 yards. He plays his third shot and runs its past the hole about five feet, which he will have left for par.

Woods does sink the bogey putt and falls back to 3 under par, one shot behind Matt Kuchar and two behind K.J. Choi.

Through No. 15: 3 under

Hole 14: Par 4, 455 yards

Tiger hits a low, running tee shot at the 14th that lands in the trees and runs out to the first cut, giving him a decent look at the green. His approach is a good one, settling about 15 feet from the pin.

Tiger's putt misses to the left and he taps in for par to remain one behind Choi.

Through No. 14: 4 under

Hole 13: Par 5, 568 yards

Woods misses the fairway left, but pulls a 5-wood out of the rough. He hits his second shot on the screws and leaves himself in perfect shape at the par-5, just in front of the green.

Putting from the front fringe, Woods runs his third shot past the hole and will have a 6-footer coming back for birdie.

Tiger rolls in the birdie and moves to 4 under par, one behind Choi.

Through No. 13: 4 under

Hole 12: Par 3, 190 yards

Tiger hits a 5-iron at the par-3 12th that misses the green and settles in the first cut, 30 feet from the flag.

He runs his chip shot a bit farther past the hole than he would have liked, but he sinks the 4-foot comebacker for par.

Through No. 12: 3 under

Hole 11: Par 5, 517 yards

After a good tee shot at the par 5, Woods is trying to figure out the wind for his upcoming approach. He guesses wrong and hits his second shot well over the green at the uphill par 5.

Hitting his third shot to 10 feet, Tiger is unable to get up-and-down for birdie, tapping in for par at the 11th. Stricker runs in a five-footer for birdie at the 11th to remain at 3 under. Showing the strong putting form he seemed to have regained in Australia, Jim Furyk is also 3 under, joining the tie for second, two shots behind K.J. Choi.

Through No. 11: 3 under

Hole No. 10: Par 4, 359 yards

Tiger hits a good drive at the short par-4 10th, leaving himself to the right of the green and with a good look at the pin, which is on the left side of the green.

Woods leaves his second shot shorter than he would have liked, leaving about 15 feet for his birdie. Stricker, meanwhile puts it inside three feet at the 10th.

His birdie chance runs out of steam and misses just low, leaving a tap-in for par. Stricker kicks in his birdie to move to 3 under, as well.

Through No. 10: 3 under

Hole No. 9: Par 4, 422 yards

Tiger will be thankful for those early birdies now, as he's making a mess of the par-4 ninth. Pulling his tee shot left into the thick rough, he tried to play a low punch shot to the green, but barely advanced the ball.

Tiger played his third shot, a similar low punch, to the right side of the green and got up-and-down for bogey to minimize the damage.

Through No. 9: 3 under

Hole No. 8: Par 3, 228 yards

Woods stays stead with another par at the long par-3 eighth. He remains 4 under, one shot ahead of K.J. Choi, who made his first par of the day at the par-4 sixth.

Through No. 8: 4 under

Hole No. 7: Par 4, 446 yards

After missing his first green of the day, Tiger nearly chips in for birdie at the seventh, lipping out from the front of the green. He taps in for par to remain at 4 under par.

Meanwhile, K.J. Choi is on fire, making birdie at the fifth to remain a perfect five-for-five on the day.

Through No. 7: 4 under

Hole No. 6: Par 4, 422 yards

The wind gusts are starting to pick up at Sherwood, so it might be important that Woods got some birdies early.

After nearly holing yet another birdie putt, he walks away with a par at the sixth to remain 4 under par and he's now tied with Choi, who has birdied the first four.

Through No. 6: 4 under

Hole No. 5: Par 5, 531 yards

Tiger hits the green in two at the par-5 fifth and has a 15-foot eagle putt, which would put him 5 under through five.

His eagle putt lips and out and he taps in for birdie at the fifth to move to 4 under on the day, one ahead of K.J. Choi, who is 3 under through three holes. Watney bogeyed the par-5 fifth.

Through No. 5: 4 under

Hole No. 4: Par 4, 456 yards

Tiger rolls in another birdie putt, this one at the dogleg-right par-4 fourth hole.

Woods is now 3 under through four, remaining tied for the lead with Nick Watney. He'll now have another par 5 upcoming.

Through No. 4: 3 under

Hole No. 3: Par 3, 198 yards

Woods and Stricker stay neck-and-neck through the third, each making a par at the par 3 to follow in Watney's footsteps. They remain in a three-way tie for the lead.

Elsewhere, Keegan Bradley (1 over) and Paul Casey (2 over) are the only players over par in the 18-man field, with Zach Johnson and Bo Van Pelt yet to tee off.

Through No. 3: 2 under

Hole No. 2: Par 5, 531 yards

Don't look now, but Woods and Stricker have both started birdie-birdie at Sherwood. Both players also made birdie at the dogleg-right, island green, par-5 second. After nearly holing his third shot from the fairway, Woods tapped in for birdie.

They are now tied out front with Nick Watney, who is 2 under through three.

Through No. 2: 2 under

Hole No. 1: Par 4, 342 yards

Playing alongside Steve Stricker, a player he's obviously comfortable with, Tiger Woods is off and running, making a birdie at the opening hole at Sherwood CC. Woods rolled in an eight-footer for his opening birdie.

Stricker also makes a birdie at the first.

While the Santa Ana winds are torturing golf in other parts of California, it's still calm in Thousand Oaks, with winds out of the Northeast at 5 mph.

Not off to such a tidy start is Paul Casey, who makes an 8 at the par-5 second hole.

Through No. 1: 1 under


Preview

Tiger Woods says he can "sense it." Is the Chevron World Challenge where the former World No. 1 will break through for his first victory in two years?

That question doesn't seem so far-fetched nowadays, not with his performance at the Australian Open and Presidents Cup, where he showed off his ball-striking and that his putting stroke might be coming back (especially in singles at the Presidents Cup).

Tiger himself isn't excited because of the third-place finish at the Aussie Open or the dominating singles victory over Aaron Baddeley at the Presidents Cup, it is how his new swing is holding up in blustery conditions that has him optimistic about this week and 2012.

"I hit all shapes, all trajectories, and if you look at the rounds, I hit most of my shots pin-high. That's an indication, if the wind's blowing that hard, that I'm really controlling my trajectory well."

Read the full story from his Wednesday press conference here.

Also, coming out of Australia, Tiger hadn't looked this good on the golf course in back-to-back weeks since he left Australia two years ago with his 82nd title and the indisputable No. 1 ranking. Check out this commentary here.

Chevron will also feature many of the top players in the world, including Rickie Fowler, Steve Stricker and Bubba Watson. With Tiger's absence from the winner's circle, the world of golf has seen a rise in youthful success, including Fowler's first professional win only a few weeks ago.

But, no matter their success, they are still measured against Tiger, who chases records each time he steps onto a course.

“Golf is a very confidence-driven game,” said Geoff Ogilvy. “A lot of these players now have more confidence than if he was winning eight times a year. Because if a guy is winning eight times a year, even if you win three times, you don’t feel like you’re as good of a player because there’s someone who’s so much better than you.”

Check out the full story on golf's youth movement here.

Looking forward to 2012, Tiger has already committed to playing in Abu Dhabi, which our Alistair Tait explains might not necessarily be because of some good golf (although Luke Donald and Martin Kaymer are both in the field).

There is also speculation that Tiger will return to Pebble Beach for the first time since 2002, as it makes sense with his schedule and other business relationships. Check that story out here.

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