Tiger Woods fails to build on electric start on return to golf at Hero World Challenge
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 02/12/16 5:40pm
Tiger Woods failed to build on a fantastic start as he carded an erratic one-over 73 on his return to competitive golf at the Hero World Challenge.
Woods looked in great shape in his first outing for almost 16 months as he followed a birdie at the third with three in a row from the sixth to get into a share of the lead on four under, but he then blotted his card with three sixes - including two double-bogeys over the last three holes.
The tournament host managed to raise a smile as he headed to the scorer's hut to sign his first card since the Wyndham Championship last August, although he ended the day nine shots adrift of first-round leader JB Holmes.
Woods appeared nervous on the opening tee ahead of his first shot in competition for 466 days following his lengthy rehabilitation from back surgery which he feared could have ended his career.
But the 14-time major champion began with two solid pars before silencing any doubts over his short-game prowess with a sublime pitch to two-feet at the long third to set up his first birdie of the day.
Another well-judged chip helped him save par at the next, and Woods missed a good chance for birdie from 10 feet at the fifth before atoning at the par-five sixth, where he floated a wedge from the semi-rough to eight feet and rolled in the putt.
Woods nailed another putt from similar range to convert a solid approach to the seventh, and he then produced a superb 201-yard six iron at the short eighth - his ball pitching in line with the target and rolling out to two feet for a tap-in birdie.
But it all started to go wrong for Woods at the next as he pulled a drive into the bushes, hacked back out to the fairway and then underhit a chip from the side of the green and watched as his ball rolled back down the run-off area.
The 40-year-old managed to get up and down to salvage a bogey, and another poor drive at the 11th cost him a further shot as he also thinned a bunker escape over the pin and into another trap.
Woods laced another superb iron to six feet at the tough 12th, although he could not convert the putt this time, but he got back to three under as he found the 15th green in two and two-putted for birdie.
But another wayward drive into the scrub at the 16th proved costly as he scrapped his way to another six and, after a good par at 17, he pulled his drive into the water at the last and signed off with another double-bogey.
The late errors saw him plummet to one over and 17th place in the elite 18-player field, with only Justin Rose below him as the Olympic champion, also returning to action after two months out, struggled to a 74.
It was a different story for Ryder Cup star Holmes at the top of the leaderboard as he recovered from a bogey at the opening hole with seven birdies and an eagle at the 11th to return a delightful eight-under 64.
Holmes leads by one from the in-form Hideki Matsuyama, who stormed home in just 30 strokes, while US Open champion Dustin Johnson birdied three of the last five holes to post a 66.
Open champion Henrik Stenson is a further shot adrift after carding six birdies and just one bogey in his classy 67, while Louis Oosthuizen slipped to five under after following three consecutive birdies from the 15th with a frustrating double-bogey six at the 18th.
Live coverage of the second round in the Bahamas starts at 6pm on Friday on Sky Sports 4 - your home of golf.