NASSAU, Bahamas — Playing competitive golf for the first time since his most recent back surgery, Tiger Woods opened with a 3-under-par 69 in the first round of the Hero World Challenge.
Given all he’s been through since playing his last tournament 10 months ago, and the lack of time spent preparing for the tournament, it was encouraging first step for the 14-time major champion who was making his first start in 301 days.
Woods hit several impressive drives and approach shots and made a few lengthy putts but also had the struggles that might be expected: two chunked chip shots, one wild drive that led to a penalty stroke and a few missed opportunities on the greens.
And a good bit of Wood’s competitiveness was apparent — a fist pump after a long par-saving putt at the fourth, an expletive dropped after a poor chip shot at the ninth, a slammed club after an errant approach to the 12th.
He also played the five par-5 holes in 1 over par, making two bogeys (one after having to take an unplayable lie at the 15th hole) — an obvious area where he will need to improve.
Woods, 41, is ranked 1,199th in the world as he is making just his 20th worldwide start since the first of his four back surgeries in 2014. Last year, he returned to this same tournament at Albany Golf Club after a 15-month layoff and finished 15th out of 17 players.
The 18-player field boasts eight of the top 10 players in the world, including No. 1-ranked Dustin Johnson.