Tiger Woods ‘rusty’ on competitive comeback in Hero World Challenge

Tiger Woods - Tiger Woods ‘rusty’ on competitive comeback in Bahamas
Tiger Woods posted a three-over 75 in his first start since the Masters - AP/Fernando Llano

Tiger Woods acknowledged that he “went sideways at the end” after he dropped four shots in his last four holes to spoil his first competitive start in eight months.

A three-over 75 was hardly disastrous, considering the fact that the 48-year-old’s last act in tournament golf was to withdraw during the third round of the Masters in April.

At that stage there were fears that the 15-time major winner would never play again, as he struggled to come back from a car crash in Feb 2021 that almost cost him his right leg.

Yet such was Woods’s optimism in his pre-match press conference at the Hero World Challenge – the event in the Bahamas promoted by his charitable foundation – that the expectancy was awakened.

And when he went through his first 14 holes in one-under, the positivity fairly soared. The highlight was a 50-footer birdie on the 11th, which only put the icing on a fine display of ball-striking.

Alas, then the rust caught up and a wild drive on the par-five 15th began to loosen the screws on the wheel. He was in a bush and could only advance the ball inches.

Woods wisely pitched it out backward onto the fairway but from there took four to get down – his three-wood to greenside was fine, but his chip was ropey – and the malaise carried on with bogeys on the 16th and 17th.

Woods sounded dejected in his assessment. “I got off to a decent start but didn’t play the par fives particularly well,” he said. “I really had a lack of commitment through most of the middle part of my round and finishing. I just didn’t quite commit to what I was doing and feeling.”

Woods understandably appeared tired by the time he reached the clubhouse. “I’m sore, there’s no doubt about that – we’ve got some work to do tonight,” he said. “‘Where was I sore? My leg, my back, my neck. Just from playing, hitting shots and trying to hold off shots.”

There is no cut in the 20-man field, so there is urgency for Woods. However, there is plenty of rehab to be completed if he will last the four rounds.

“Tomorrow morning, first thing, I get back in the gym and activate and get ready for it. Hopefully I’ll hit some better shots,” Woods said. “And now I know mentally what I need to do better. I think that’s something that physically I knew I was going to be OK. Mentally, I was really rusty and made a lot of errors in the mind that normally I don’t make.”

Woods only has two below him on the leaderboard, with Open champion Brian Harman leading the way on five-under alongside fellow American Tony Finau. England’s Matt Fitzpatrick shot a two-under to stand in a tie for eighth.

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