The fairytale ended at the eighth hole as Tiger Woods, with two double bogies over the final three holes, returned to competitive golf with a mixed bag to be placed 17th in an 18-man field after the first round of Hero World Challenge here. The American former world number one hit a one-over-par 73 on his return from a 15-month layoff after recovering from two back surgeries.
The 40-year-old Woods showed glimpses of his old self as he had a run of birdies to begin with, and was even briefly tied for the lead. The 14-time Major winner and 79 PGA Tour titles had four birdies in eight holes. However, a bogey on the ninth after a wayward drive cut short the run. At the end of the first day of this unofficial PGA event at the Albany Golf Club, Woods was nine shots off the pace set by fellow American J B Holmes. Woods was tied with Holmes, Louis Oosthuizen and Matt Kuchar after making his third successive birdie. After a bad outing on the ninth, Woods added another bogey on the 11th and while he made up for that with a birdie on the 15th, two more late bogies followed to ruin an otherwise day at the course designed by four-time Major winner Ernie Els.
Nonetheless, for someone who was at one stage not able to get up on his own from the bed owing to a bad back, it was a pretty impressive opening. Though he hit the ball into the bushes, Woods looked upbeat as he assembled later for a chat with the global media.
“Well, think about it, I hit the ball in three bushes and a water ball on Friday. It could have been something really good. I got off to a nice solid start and made a few mistakes there.” he said.