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Thursday
Nov302017

Roundup: Tiger's Back! Looks Sharp In Hero Opening 69

The reviews were understandably positive as Tiger opened with a 69 in his Hero World Challenge comeback from a fusion surgery some believed was career-ending.

A few shaky wedge shots that looked more rusty than yippy to me dropped the performance from an A to maybe an A-, but Woods otherwise looked like his persistent old self. The coverage noted the grinding and driving distance, regularly at 320 yards with the big stick.

Steve DiMeglio for USA Today:

On the fourth hole of his latest comeback, the Tiger Woods of old showed up when he chunked a short chip shot.

Moments later, the Tiger of old showed up again when he buried a 20-footer for par on the same hole and uncorked the first fist pump of his comeback.

While Woods called his ballyhooed return “up and down,” he produced far more roars than groans in Thursday’s first round of the Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Course. In his first start in 10 months and just his fourth in two years, the former world No. 1 didn’t have any issues with his surgically repaired back and was a physical, powerful brute with driver in hand — regularly exceeding 320 yards off the tee.

Doug Ferguson for the AP:

Unlike a year ago, when Woods ended a 15-month hiatus from his ailing back, he didn’t show any fatigue at the end of his round or make any big numbers. His only regret was playing the par 5s at Albany Golf Club in 1-over par with two bogeys that stalled his momentum.

Coming off a 25-foot birdie putt on the par-3 eighth, Woods hit a 3-wood that rolled up on the green and then down a slope about 30 feet from the pin. It took him four shots from there, starting with a chip that didn’t reach the green and his first expletive loud enough for television to pick up.

After his best shot of the day — a pitching wedge he hit low from 95 yards that settled a foot behind the hole for birdie on No. 14 — he sent a drive well to the right into the native dunes. Woods had to take a penalty drop to get back in play and wound up making bogey.

But it was solid enough that Woods was far more interested in the leaderboard than the fact he felt strong physically.

Bob Harig for ESPN.com:

The spinal fusion surgery meant Woods had to wait six months to take full swings, and did not get back to hitting balls in earnest until mid-October, just six weeks ago.

So hitting 7 out of 13 fairways, 12 out of 18 greens and needing 28 putts was a solid performance, even on a relatively benign Albany Golf Club course that saw 15 of the 18 players break par.

The urgency and grinding-like-few-others energy that Woods brought was evident on TV, and in person, as Jeff Babineau noted in his Golfweek lede:

Tiger Woods stood over an 8-footer to save par on his final hole in his long-awaited comeback round on Thursday at the Hero World Challenge, and he never did see the majestic double rainbow that seemed to stretch across the entire island behind him.

Typical Tiger. Some parts of his game may be rusty. His penchant for grinding is not among them.

And there was the overall gratitude of Woods to be playing again, an admission made with a candor and consideration that is boosting his karma score.

From Brian Wacker's Golf World piece:

The emotion Woods felt Thursday when he woke up for the opening round of the Hero World Challenge?

“I was very thankful this morning,” he said. “I was in my head thanking all the people who have helped me in giving me a chance to come back and play this round again.

“There were a lot of people that were instrumental in my life; friends, outside people I’ve never met before, obviously my surgeon.”

Tiger’s Masters odds fell, from 66-1 to 33-1.

 

Tiger's extended first round highlights by PGA Tour Entertainment:

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Reader Comments (23)

He’s back!! And boy is everybody happy.

A few comments:

1. His swing is different but fast and he can still hang.
2. Putting was on fire today
3. Boy does this guy move the needle. Everybody on the driving range was talking about him. Many were inspired to come out and hit balls after seeing the highlights on social media.
4. Maybe the first player I’ve seen other competitors actively pulling for during a competition. These are his friends but yeah they want him back. BAD.
5. Every time he gets over a chip I hear the theme to Stranger Things.
Didn’t watch it - how far was he behind Thomas off of the tee? The video I have seen of Tiger makes it looks like he’s really going after the ball - that backs gonna need management.
11.30.2017 | Unregistered CommenterCenter Cur
@Center Cur - He was past Thomas much of the day w/o swinging out of his shoes. Pretty easy information to find.
11.30.2017 | Unregistered CommenterOWGR Fan
If he keeps swinging that hard every time he steps up to the tee he's going to be back on the sidelines pretty darn fast.
11.30.2017 | Unregistered CommenterBoomer
@ OWGR - thanks for the information, although somewhat contradicted by the next poster.
12.1.2017 | Unregistered CommenterCenter Cut
Hate to spoil the lovefest. But the two flubbed pitch shots go to show that the short game issues he experienced 2 years ago still exists. And the yips of any kind are no bueno.
Posting 3 under in 1st round with scorecard after 300 days was very impressive.
Way past JT on many holes, he is clearly finding the center of the clubface.
Never have I heard so many excuses for a tour player chunking a chip, from so many people. He will figure it out people, stop making excuses.
12.1.2017 | Unregistered CommenterConvert
His short game showed some rust, but his foul mouth was in 2000 form.
12.1.2017 | Unregistered Commentersurfmeister
Ball goes far.... a ring rusty player, in his 40's, with the most reported injury list in golf history, in his first round under tournament conditions 'regularly exceeded 320 yards off the tee'.
He's not swinging that hard. Justin Thomas swings "harder" than Tiger did yesterday.

He is swinging FAST. But so did Tiger in 2000. And 1997. And 2005.
12.1.2017 | Unregistered CommenterErik J. Barzeski
Swing hard, Tiger!
12.1.2017 | Unregistered CommenterFC
The weird noise in the background is the sound of many a word being eaten.
12.1.2017 | Unregistered Commenterchico
@Chico
Actually I've heard nothing but silence from the usual suspects in the peanut gallery.....
12.1.2017 | Unregistered CommenterCroDad
When he made his announcement that he was going to play again, the cynic in me thought we'd have to wait until Augusta to judge his comeback attempt. That's going to be awhile, but if you can't see something is a little different about this time, you're trying not to.
I think there is genuine pleasure from lots of people about him coming back and being able to play. However chico and CroDad, you guys need to keep your reality in check - it was the first round of a hit a giggle, out of season event. Words will be eaten when he wins a tour event. Many words will be eaten when he contends in a major and a dictionary will be swallowed if he ever wins a major again.
12.1.2017 | Unregistered CommenterPress Agent
Best reentry since the triple lindy.
12.1.2017 | Unregistered CommenterDon
I happened to catch him just before he teed on on 9 today and I think it was a 600 yard par 5. Immediately, I thought 'Oh sh&t, he's going to try to kill it'. However, he seemed to swing in control on both the tee shot and on the second shot to set up the eagle. It all looked pretty awesome.

What's that? Me, getting my hopes up?

No way! YOU'RE getting your hopes up.
12.1.2017 | Unregistered Commenterdsl
Tiger looks good. What with the strip of black tape running down the back of his shirt? Saw it yesterday & again today.
12.1.2017 | Unregistered CommenterBud
@Center Cut - Some people like Boomer are out of touch. I'll leave it at that.
12.1.2017 | Unregistered CommenterOWGR Fan
@Bud .... Tigers shirt did not have a stripe on his back in the first round. For the Friday round it's likely that way the shirt was designed.

Here is a link from Thursdays round. Compliments of Getty Images. Also thanks to the internet.

http://www.gettyimages.com/license/883021196
12.1.2017 | Unregistered CommenterOWGR Fan
Pretty, pretty good for the whatisit? 1,107th ranked golfer in the world? Front 9 Day 2 looked familiar. If this guy's back is actually fixed . . . . With every swing I'm cringing and watching for that wince of pain.
12.1.2017 | Unregistered CommenterBen Hagen
Row 5, center photo from the link in OWGR fan’s post clearly shows the shadow stripe down the back of 5he shirt.
Nike marketing....
12.2.2017 | Unregistered CommenterLateral Hazard
I initially thought the stripe was tape of some kind, related to his back problems. I've seem LPGA golfers wearing tape that was supposed to help with injuries. Now, I'm led to believe that it's a Nike style thing. I guess I'll have to get out my electrical tape & alter my golf shirts....
12.2.2017 | Unregistered CommenterBud

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