Tiger Woods posts up-and-down opening 73 at Hero World Challenge

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Tiger Woods posts up-and-down opening 73 at Hero World Challenge

PGA Tour

Tiger Woods posts up-and-down opening 73 at Hero World Challenge

It’s a good thing that this Hero World Challenge is only the continuation of Tiger Woods’ comeback, not the beginning.

Woods made bogeys early and was killed by a triple bogey in the middle. He battled back late but it still only netted him a less-than-stellar 1-over 73 in Thursday’s opening round at Albany Golf Club in the Bahamas.

That score put him one shot ahead of last place in the 18-man field (T-15 overall), and eight off the lead when he finished (Patrick Cantlay was the leader at the time after an opening 7-under 65).

The Hero World Challenge marked the first event in Woods’ last two returns to competitive golf. In each of those showings, he displayed flashes that had many thinking he could regain some of his old mojo.

That didn’t really manifest again Thursday, but it didn’t really need to. Woods launched from the Hero World Challenge last year and posted a remarkable 2018 in which he contended in the year’s final two majors and won the Tour Championship for his first victory in five years.

So there’s no reason to take big signs from a Thursday at the Hero World Challenge this time. Still, Woods was certainly looking for better.

Simply, this was a day that never got on track.

Woods quickly bogeyed the second hole and then missed a 5-footer for a bounceback birdie at the next. He then posted a head-scratching three-putt bogey from inside 25 feet at the fifth to fall to 2 over.

It was a rough start that had Woods tied for last and appearing to be headed toward a disastrous Thursday.

As he is wont to do, though, he steadied the ship. For a time,

Woods immediately pumped the breaks on the bogey train, making back-to-back birdies at Nos. 6 and 7. He proceeded to par the next three holes and appeared to give himself a nice eagle look at the par-5 11th, until his ball just trickled off the green.

He ended up parring the hole to remain at even par.

That would be a turning point. After Woods failed to get into red figures, he pulled his tee shot at the par-3 12th into a precarious position. He was in the rough, but on the edge of it with an upward fairway slope between him and the green.

If Woods didn’t get the ball to the green, it could roll all the way back to him or even farther into the sand or water behind him.

In the sticky lie, Woods indeed chipped short and his ball raced back until it barely reached the water. That forced him to take an unplayable, which would lead to a demoralizing triple bogey and a drop to last place alone.

Woods had made a nice comeback to return to even, but that triple put to bed any hope of turning this into a day that finished with a nice score.

And yet, Woods still clawed back. He buried a 7-footer for par on the following hole to avoid going 4 over. At the par-5 16th he drained a 20-footer for birdie to get it back to 2 over.

His closing approach at the par-4 18th was a beauty that nestled within 3 feet of the cup. He made the birdie putt to cap off his 73.

It was an odd opening day for Woods for sure and one that’ll see him finish near the bottom of the field if he keeps playing like this.

But the late surge gave some home for the rest of the week and keeps him within striking distance for now.

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