Tiger Woods starts strong in return before shooting 40 on back nine

Tiger Woods starts strong in return before shooting 40 on back nine
Tiger Woods prepares to putt at No. 18 during the first round of the Hero World Challenge on Thursday. (Christian Petersen / Getty Images)

Not only did Tiger Woods return to golf Thursday, he returned to being Tiger. Just not for long. 

Hardly looking like a player who had not competed in 466 days, Woods ran off three straight birdies with a variety of shots and was tied for the lead in the Hero World Challenge in Nassau, Bahamas, as he approached the turn.


Three shots in the bushes, one shot in the water and a few fits of anger sent him toward the bottom of the pack. A pair of double bogeys over the final three holes ruined an otherwise impressive return, and Woods shot 40 on the back nine at Albany Golf Club and had to settle for a one-over 73.

He was in 17th place in the 18-man field. Only Justin Rose had a higher score. 

Even so, Woods has reason to be encouraged. After taking off 15 months to recover from two back surgeries, he felt no pain or limitations. His misses were not big, just costly. And he was playing again.

He was nine shots behind J.B. Holmes, who opened with an eight-under 64 and had a one-shot lead over Hideki Matsuyama, with U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson at 66. 

Woods is coming off the longest hiatus of his golfing life. Plagued by back problems since 2013 when he was No. 1 in the world, he finally shut it down after tying for 10th in the Wyndham Championship on Aug. 23, 2015, and then going through two back surgeries. 

Three Australians tied for lead at Australian PGA Championship

Australians Andrew Dodt, Harold Varner and Ashley Hall shared the Australian PGA Championship lead Friday at seven-under 64 after the rain-delayed first round at Gold Coast.

Dodt finished Thursday before lightning and a storm forced organizers to postpone play until Friday morning. Play resumed at 5:30 a.m., and Varner completed the round with birdies on his last two holes. Hall birdied four of his last seven.

Australian star Adam Scott opened with a 69. 

Schwartzel shred lead at Dunhill Championship

Defending champion Charl Schwartzel birdied the last hole for a share of the first-round lead in the European Tour's Alfred Dunhill Championship at Malelane, South Africa.

The South African star tapped in on No. 18 to match Ireland's Paul Dunne at 6-under 66 at Leopard Creek Country Club. Schwartzel has won the event three of the last four years and four times overall/

Dunne rebounded from a double-bogey six on No. 9.

Brandon Stone, Max Orrin, Scott Jamieson, Jean Hugo, Pablo Larrazabal and Alexander Bjork shot 67.