Tiger strug­gles on back nine in first round back

The Denver Post - - SPORTS | OFF & RUNNING - By Doug Ferguson

nassau, ba­hamas» Not only did Tiger Woods re­turn to golf Thurs­day, he re­turned to be­ing Tiger. Just not for long. Hardly look­ing like a player who had not com­peted in 466 days, Woods ran off three straight birdies with a va­ri­ety of shots and was tied for the lead in the Hero World Chal­lenge as he ap­proached the turn.

Three shots in the bushes, one shot in the wa­ter and a few fits of anger sent him to­ward the bot­tom of the pack. Two dou­ble bo­geys over the fi­nal three holes ru­ined an oth­er­wise im­pres­sive re­turn, and Woods shot 40 on the back nine at Al­bany Golf Club and had to set­tle for a 1-over 73.

He was in 17th place in the 18-man field. Only Justin Rose had a higher score.

Even so, Woods has rea­son to be en­cour­aged. Af­ter tak­ing off 15 months to re­cover from two back surg­eries, he felt no pain or lim­i­ta­tions. His misses were not big, just costly. And he was play­ing again.

“It could have been some­thing re­ally good,” Woods said. “I got off to a nice, solid start and made a few mis­takes there.”

He was nine shots be­hind J.B. Holmes, who opened with an 8-un­der 64 and had a one-shot lead over Hideki Mat­suyama, with U.S. Open cham­pion Dustin John­son at 66.

TigerWoods plays in his first round of com­pet­i­tive golf in 466 days Thurs­day at the Hero World Chal­lenge at Al­bany in the Ba­hamas. Chris­tian Petersen, Getty Im­ages

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