Tiger Woods is back, and his phenomenal play over the opening nine holes at the Hero World Challenge will leave many counting the days until the 2017 Masters.
Woods stepped onto the first tee at a golf tournament for the first time in 466 days Thursday, and 90 minutes later he was leading a star-studded field in the Bahamas that includes six of the top 10 players in the world. The 898th-ranked player – who joked a few days ago that he hopes to stay in the top 1,000 – made his first birdie in more than a year on the third hole, then carded three consecutive birdies starting at the par-5 sixth.
Woods needed eight holes to grab a share of the lead at 4-under par (Matt Kuchar quickly dropped to 5-under), but he followed it up with a poor drive on the 9th hole that left him with an awkward side-hill lie in waist-high brush. He recovered and gave himself a chance to get up-and-down for par, but hit a shocking pitch and carded a bogey.
Woods got himself into trouble off the tee a few times on the back nine, carding a bogey at the 11th and a double-bogey on the 16 to drop back to 1-under for the round. At the par-4 18th hole, Woods hit his drive into the water left of the hole and finished with a second double-bogey in three holes.
The touch is there.
Tiger has now made 2 birdies and 0 bogeys thru 6 holes.