Tiger Woods, pain-free, puts in solid show in Hero World Challenge with 3-under | other sports | Hindustan Times
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Tiger Woods, pain-free, puts in solid show in Hero World Challenge with 3-under

Tiger Woods, who was playing his first competitive match after being sidelined for 10 months due to a back injury, put in a solid show and did not show signs of any pain as he finished Day 1 of the Hero World Challenge with a solid three-under performance.

other sports Updated: Dec 01, 2017 18:43 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Tiger Woods did not show any sign of pain as he finished day one of the Hero World Challenge with a three-under score.
Tiger Woods did not show any sign of pain as he finished day one of the Hero World Challenge with a three-under score. (USA TODAY Sports)

The fist pump, that signature Tiger Woods celebration, came in the fourth hole after a curling 15-foot putt saved par. It will be a while before the world finds out whether fans’ cries of “he’s back” and “Daddy’s home” ring true but Woods’ first competitive round in 301 days was solid with snatches of the spectacular.

It put Woods, three-under after Day 1 of the Hero World Challenge here on Thursday and tied eighth three shots off leader Tommy Fleetwood, in a happier place than he had expected. Woods said he had aimed for something under par before the day started. No wonder, many felt that the rainbow which appeared as Woods wrapped up for the day signified more than refraction.

Woods said he has practised for nine straight days but how his body copes with the challenge of competition from a quality field will have to be seen. But for four-odd hours on the course here, Woods didn’t wince. Not once.

“I had a great gym session this morning, lifted some solid weight; felt good,” he said.

He prowled the fairways like it was yesterday once more but there was also banter with Justin Thomas.

Chipping may be a cause for concern but the drives – such as the approach shots on the 13th and the 16th and the 260-yard effort on the third -- and putts showed glimpses of what can be.

“Today, if I take away the two 6s (bogeys on the ninth and 15th, two of the five par-5 holes here) and play the round correctly, then I’m probably tied for the lead. So, it’s just little things like that I need to clean up and hopefully I can do that tomorrow,” said Woods.

Not many can say that after a 10-month lay-off. “I stayed away for a month and found it difficult today,” said Thomas, who scored four-under in his first Tour round with Woods and is tied fourth.

“To come out mentally sharp is very difficult…On a real testing day with lot of crosswinds, you have got to hit good golf shots,” he said about Woods.

Woods said he got into rhythm by the second hole. In the third, a good putt set up his first birdie. Rustiness showed on the ninth and when a chip didn’t slide over leading to his first bogey, Woods leant on his club and yelled “f***”. A birdie on the 10th though showed how determined Woods was to not let the round slip. “I grinded it out and made a few pars, which is nice,” he said.

The determination to make something out of this also showed in a blink-and-you-miss appearance at an India gala night being held almost next door from where he is staying on the course.

In the bizarre situation of the 1199-ranked player being the focus in a field that has eight of the world’s top 10 --- California, Calgary and Jamaica are among the places people have come from to see the comeback --- Fleetwood capitalised on a good start to lead Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar by one stroke.

SCORES: 1. T Fleetwood (66) T2: R Fowler, M Kuchar (67). T4: K Chappell, J Rose, D Johnson, J Spieth (68). F Molinari, C Hoffman, T Woods, J Thomas (69). T12: H Stenson, K Kisner (70). T14: H Matsuyama, B Koepka (71). 16: P Reid (72), 17. A Noren (73). 18: D Berger (75).