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Woods makes encouraging start at the Hero Challenge

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Tiger Woods made an encouraging return to competitive action with an opening-round 69 at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.

By SportBrief Reporter

The world No 1,199, making his first appearance since February’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic, mixed five birdies with two bogeys to stay within three strokes of early leader Tommy Fleetwood.

Woods showed no signs of physical discomfort as he impressed off the tee and with his putter at the Albany, with a couple of rusty chip shots and a failure to take advantage of the par-fives the only notable causes for concern.

The tournament host ripped his opening drive more than 300 yards as it bounced out of a bunker and onto the left edge of the fairway, before pitching to 12 feet and shaving the edge with his birdie putt.

A par at the second was followed by the first birdie of the day at the par-five next, where Woods found the green in two and two-putted from 40 feet.

The former world No 1 left his approach some way short of the fourth green and saw an under-hit chip stick on the fringe, where he unleashed a trademark fist pump after holing a 20-footer for par.

Woods completed the fifth in regulation and recovered from finding the sand off the par-five sixth tee to post a two-putt par from 20 feet, before following a par at the seventh with a 25-foot gain at the par-three next.

Two off the lead heading to the par-five ninth, Woods duffed a short chip with his third shot and three-putted from just off the green to card a first bogey of the day.

The 14-time major champion responded by slotting in a 15-foot birdie at the next and creaming his drive at the par-five 11th, only to send his approach a long way wide of the fairway.

A conservative chip over the flag took the bunker out of play and left Woods at the far side of the green, where he raced his birdie try ten feet past but recovered to save par.

Woods produced a smart chip to get up-and-down from an upward lie in the rough to save par at the 12th, before following a 15-foot gain at the 13th with a kick-in birdie at the next to briefly get within one of the lead.

A wayward drive off the 15th tee saw Woods take a drop on his way to a bogey-six, with a par at the next hole and a smart pitch to a foot from off the 17th green keeping him at three under.

The 41-year-old got an unlucky break with his second shot in to the last as he faced a tough lie close to the green, only for him to pitch to five feet and walk in the putt to close a sub-70 round.

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