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Tiger dazzles in long-awaited return from injury

Updated: 2017-12-01 09:38

Playing alongside friend and FedExCup champion Justin Thomas, Woods, dressed in black with a white hat, showed his first bit of frustration at the par-five ninth when, after failing to reach the green in two, he made a mess of a chip.

Despite being about 30 feet from the cup after two shots Woods settled for his first bogey of the day to reach the turn in one-under 35.

Woods responded nicely with a birdie from 15 feet at the next hole.


After his tee shot at the par-three 12th sailed wide right and into rough, Woods promptly slammed his club to the ground but quickly calmed down and delivered perhaps his best chip of the day to within four feet for a solid up and down.

He carried that momentum to the next hole where he rolled in his fourth birdie of the day, this time from 22 feet.

Woods laid up off the tee at the par-four 14th, then delivered a stunning wedge shot from 88 yards that settled about two feet from the cup, leading to his second consecutive birdie.

It appeared that Woods was about to make a charge to the top of the leaderboard at this point until his errant tee shot at 15 took the wind out of his sails.

"I felt rusty starting after a month and half (off) so I can't imagine what it felt like for him," said Thomas, who also carded a 69.

"He played well. I truly felt like he was going to play well just from when we played and then practice around here."

A 79-times winner on the PGA Tour who was world number one for a record 683 weeks, Woods lost form in recent years due to injuries and his ranking has plummeted to 1,199th.

This marks the second consecutive season that Woods has made his return to action at the tournament after a lengthy absence.

He finished 15th in the 17-man field 12 months ago after a 15-month layoff.

Woods then missed the cut at Torrey Pines in January and withdrew from the Dubai Desert Classic the following week because of a back spasm. (Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond and Ken Ferris)


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