Tiger Woods roared back into competitive golf in the Bahamas on Thursday with four birdies in his first eight holes at the Hero World Challenge. Unfortunately, the dream run did not last.
With seemingly the entire world watching the 14-time major champion play his first round since the Wyndham Championship in August 2015, Woods responded with a birdie on the par-five third hole and a trio of further gains from the sixth to the eighth.
The wheels began to fall off at the ninth, though, when Woods lost his drive left and chunked a chip to record a bogey. His struggles continued on the back nine with another bogey on the par-five 11th.
Woods came back with a birdie on the par-five 15th after hitting a marvellous seven-iron from the fairway. The former world number one narrowly missed his eagle putt on the high side after watching Patrick Reed fail to sink from a similar line, but tapped in to get back to three-under.
That, however, was the last positive hole Woods played. He immediately double-bogeyed the par-four 16th despite drilling a drive down the fairway, before two-putting for par on 17 and making a mess of the closing hole.
Entering the last at one-under, Woods sent his tee shot left into the water, dropped, lost his third shot to the right, then failed to get up-and-down, ultimately settling for another double-bogey to finish with a one-over 73.
Woods, who sits 17th out of 18 players, stated before the tournament that he had just started walking 18 holes, so fatigue could have played a factor in the poor finish to his once-promising round.
"I had some awkward shots, there's no doubt about it. All in all I feel pretty good," Woods said on Golf Channel after his round. "I felt the competitive flow early in the round, by the time I had hit my second tee shot I was already into the flow of the round."
There were still a number of positives to take from the day. Woods was dialled in with his irons all day and looked sharp around the greens, save for the poor chip on nine. Though he missed a couple tee shots wide left, few were far off line and he didn not miss a fairway to the right all round.
Rust clearly played a factor for Woods on Thursday, but it appears he's in line for a successful comeback barring another injury.