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Woods happy after solid return in Bahamas
December 02, 2017
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Miami: Former world number one Tiger Woods made a satisfying return on Thursday in his latest comeback after a 10-month layoff punctuated by back surgery and personal problems.

Woods, playing his first round of tournament golf in 301 days, fired a three-under-par 69 in the opening round of the Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Club in the Bahamas.

The 41-year-old 14-time major champion carded five birdies and two bogeys in an encouraging first outing since injury forced his withdrawal at the Dubai Desert Classic in February.

“I thought I did great,” said a smiling Woods, who is three shots back from leader Tommy Fleetwood, who posted a six-under-par 66.

“I hadn’t played in a while after some difficulties, so to come out here and score like I did was nice,” Woods added.

“It was fun to be out there and be part of a scorecard again.”

Woods underwent back surgery in April in the latest of a series of injury setbacks which also forced him to miss the entire 2015-2016 season.

He admitted he had not known what to expect on his return to competitive golf.

“I didn’t know what I could do. I’ve been playing golf, been playing a lot of holes at home,” Woods said.

“But it’s a little different when you’ve got to tee it up in a tournament. I had a lot of adrenaline going there.

“I had to dial it back a little bit. Those are the internal struggles I haven’t had for a while.”

After narrowly missing with two birdie putts on the opening two holes, Woods made his first birdie of the day on the par-five third, reaching the green in two before two-putting.

A further birdie on the eighth -- when he drained a 20-foot putt -- put him at two under before a botched chip led to a bogey on the ninth.

However Woods came roaring back after the turn, with birdies on the 10th, 13th and 14th to move to four under before a bogey on 16 halted his momentum.

Thursday’s round follows a difficult year for Woods, who in addition to his injury problems has also battled demons in his private life. He was arrested for driving under the influence in May after being found asleep in his Mercedes-Benz by the side of the road near his home in Florida. Woods, whose 79 career PGA Tour wins are three shy of Sam Snead’s all-time record, has not won a major title since the 2008 US Open and has not won any event since the 2013 World golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational.

Leishman surge

In-form Australian Marc Leishman fired seven-under-par 65 to storm to a share of the lead of the Australian PGA on the Gold Coast on Friday.

Leishman, who this week won the Greg Norman Medal for the Australian golfer of the year, started the second round one shot behind overnight leaders Adam Bland and Jordan Zunic.

But his sizzling second round ensured he would finish the day at 12 under par alongside Bland, who fired a second consecutive six-under 66 at par-72 Royal Pines.

Two-time champion Greg Chalmers was two shots further back on 10 under, one ahead of Zunic, Cameron Smith and Rhein Gibson.

US Masters champion Sergio Garcia fired a one-under 71 to close at six under but Adam Scott, who won the green jacket in 2013, struggled all day and missed the cut by two shots after finishing at one over.

Atwal keeps lead

Arjun Atwal’s steady second round of 1-under-par 35-35=70 was sufficient to maintain his lead halfway through Friday at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open. The Indian golfer’s 10-under total of 132 left him one stroke clear of Dylan Frittelli and Laurie Canter.

After the drama of Thursday’s 62, Atwal made a sedate start on the back nine, opening with five pars and a birdie at No. 14.

The first of two errors came at the 16th, but he got the shot back at the 18th. Another bogey followed at the third and he righted it with birdie-4 at the seventh, making him 8-under for the four long holes so far this week.

Assuming he maintains his hold of the lead, and blustery conditions suggested the afternoon starters might struggle to catch him, it will be the sixth solo 36-hole lead of his career. He is currently 2-for-5.

Agencies

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