Tony Finau and Brian Harman hold a share of the lead after opening round at Hero World Challenge, with Jordan Spieth one back; Tiger Woods stutters to a three-over 75 in first start since The Masters; watch the second round live on Friday from 5.30pm on Sky Sports Golf
Friday 1 December 2023 06:07, UK
Tiger Woods was unable to build on a positive start to his latest injury comeback at the Hero World Challenge, as Brian Harman and Tony Finau shared the early lead in the Bahamas.
Woods described his game as "rusty" ahead of his first competitive start since his withdrawal from The Masters in April, with his pre-tournament description validated by an eventful three-over 75 at Albany Golf Club.
The 47-year-old was within one of the lead at various points during his opening round but mixed four birdies with five bogeys and a double-bogey, with four dropped shots in a three-hole stretch on his back nine leaving him 18th on the 20-man leaderboard.
Woods is eight strokes behind Harman and Finau, who set the pace by carding five-under 67s, while Jordan Spieth sits in third after registering just five pars in an opening-round 68 and world No 1 Scottie Scheffler is the group two off the pace in a share of fourth.
Woods striped his opening drive down the middle of the fairway on his way to a par and got up and down from the sand at the second to avoid a dropped shot by holing from 10 feet, then rolled in from 12 feet at the par-five third to card his first birdie of the tournament.
The former world No 1 responded to a dropped shot at the fourth by converting from 30 feet at the par-three fifth to get back within one of the lead, only to card a careless bogey at the par-five next after knocking his birdie putt from the fringe eight feet past the target.
Woods recovered from a heavy pitch in the sand at the driveable seventh to avoid a second successive bogey and holed from six feet on the next two holes for pars, seeing him turn in 36, before a regulation par at the 10th by draining a 50-foot birdie at the par-five 11th.
The world No 1,328 responded to a bogey at the 12th by getting up and down at the driveable 14th to get back to one under, only to begin an expensive finish by putting his tee shot into bushes at the par-five 15th.
Woods only advanced his ball inches and racked up a double-bogey seven on the easiest hole of the golf course, before further bogeys on both his next two holes left him sliding down the leaderboard.
"I was rusty, I didn't have my feels and conditions were tough early," Woods told Golf Channel. "I kind of hung through there, and I did not finish off my round when I needed to. Consequently, it kind of went sideways at the end."
Harman set the initial clubhouse target and was temporarily three ahead after three consecutive birdies from the 13th, with his only bogey coming at the par-four last, while Finau made four birdies in a five-hole stretch to also get to five under.
Spieth is one back and Scheffler shares fourth with Cameron Young, Max Homa and Collin Morikawa, while England's Matt Fitzpatrick and Woods' playing partner Justin Thomas are both within three lead after opening-round 70s.
The only players below Woods on the leaderboard are US Open champion Wyndham Clark - who carded a four-over 76 - and Will Zalatoris, who marked his own injury comeback with a nine-over 81.
Watch Tiger Woods' comeback at the Hero World Challenge throughout the week live on Sky Sports. Live coverage continues Friday from 5.30pm on Sky Sports Golf. Stream the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour and more with NOW.
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