Woods set to make re­turn to PGA after 465 days away

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Doug Ferguson

nassau, ba­hamas» Ev­ery­one is watch­ing, ev­ery­one is cu­ri­ous, and Jor­dan Spi­eth had the per­fect view of Tiger Woods for his re­turn to golf.

Spi­eth was on the 17th green and looked across a nar­row pond to the ninth tee at Al­bany Golf Club where Woods stood over his tee shot dur­ing the Wed­nes­day pro-am. He saw the swing, but he lost sight of the ball in the glare of the trop­i­cal sun.

“Where did it go?” Spi­eth said as he tried to gauge where the ball might land. “Not in the fair­way.” He looked again. “Whoa! There it is — way down there,” he said.

The shots and the score don’t count un­til Thurs­day at the Hero World Chal­lenge with an 18-man field, small but strong. Woods is play­ing for the first time in 465 days. The ex­pec­ta­tions have rarely been this var­ied. The in­ter­est is as high as ever.

“He’s the only per­son ... in the last 30 years in golf that any ex­pec­ta­tion you set, he’ll some­how prove to you that he can do bet­ter,” Spi­eth said. “But I think with this, I just hope that ev­ery­one gives him time. I hope he has the time to fall into a rhythm and just get enough tour­na­ments where he can kind of build up that see­ing the shots un­der com­pe­ti­tion, un­der the gun.

Woods last played Aug. 23, 2015, when he closed with a 70 at the Wyn­d­ham Cham­pi­onship to fall out of con­tention and tie for 10th. Two back surg­eries fol­lowed, leav­ing him so de­bil­i­tated at times that he won­dered whether he would ever play.

He tees off at high noon in the Ba­hamas with Pa­trick Reed, who idol­ized his golf so much as a teenager that he wears black pants and a red shirt on Sun­day.

It was only three years ago that Woods won five times and was PGA Tour player of the year.

Woods had five or more vic­to­ries 11 times in a span of 13 sea­sons.

Woods de­clared him­self ready to play and said, “I’m go­ing to try to win this thing.”

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