GOLF

Tiger hits one-over 73 in long-waited return

Showing glimpses of the form that made him a household name, Tiger Woods fired a one-over-par 73 on his return to competition.

Tiger hits one-over 73 in long-waited return
Christian Petersen AFP

Woods makes comeback

Showing a few, fleeting glimpses of the kind of form that made him a household name, Tiger Woods fired a one-over-par 73 at the Hero World Challenge in his return to competition. Woods, who has missed 16 months following back surgery, reeled off three consecutive birdies to share the lead at four under after his first eight holes of the 18-man invitational event he hosts in the Bahamas.

But he went five over from there and a closing double bogey left him nine strokes adrift of leader J.B. Holmes. The fomer world No.1, who has fallen to 898th in the rankings, birdied the par-5 third and sixth, par-4 seventh and par-3 eighth holes at 7,302-yard Albany Golf Club in his first competitive round since August 2015.

Bogey

On the par-5 ninth, the course's longest hole at 603 yards, Woods sent his tee shot into tall weeds and sand left of the fairway, botched a chip and took the first bogey of his comeback. Another par-5 bogey came at 11 and while Woods birdied the par-5 15th, he found a double-bogey disaster at the par-4 16th and pulled his tee shot into the water to set up his woes at the last. Playing alongside fellow American Patrick Reed in often windy conditions, Woods ended his longest career layoff after 466 days.

Into the rough

Clad in black shirt, pants, cap and shoes, Woods found the left rough on his first shot but put his approach 15 feet from the hole and tapped in for an opening par. Woods went over a raised green at the par-5 third hole but chipped to 18 inches and tapped in for his comeback's first birdie. He blasted his tee shot at the par-5 sixth 320 feet, giving him 275 to the hole. His second shot landed in the rough but he chipped to eight feet and sank the putt.

He sank an eight-foot birdie putt at the par-4 seventh and followed with a two-foot birdie putt at the par-3 eighth before his stumble at nine, a hole he eagled with a 12-foot putt. A poor iron shot at the par-4 16th found sandy weeds, forcing him to blast out and his fourth shot went over the green on his way to double bogey.

At the 18th, Woods found water left of the fairway and while his par chip hit the flagstick, it then rolled 15 feet away and he two-putted for 73. The 40-year-old had not played competitively since he shared 10th at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina, in August 2015. It's his best result since the start of 2014.