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Tiger Woods (left) and caddie Joe LaCava look on from the 11th tee during the pro-am of the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines Municipal Golf Course on January 24. Deft chip sets up short birdie putt and moves him inside the cut line. With his caddie, Joe LaCava, by his side, Woods said he started grinding and amped up his work last week, spending long hours and many days playing and practicing at the Medalist Golf Club near his Florida compound. "And people started cheering".
The ball bounced onto the green and rolled just inches from the hole, almost going in for an ace.
"It looked good from the tee", Woods said. "It was fun to be out there".
Woods was on the South Course at Torrey Pines, which has been kind to him throughout his career. Tap-in for first birdie of the day.
Woods' final birdie of the day was his most spectacular, a smooth a 6-iron from 170 metres rolling perilously close to an ace before finishing inches from the hole. A bogey at 10 was followed by birdies at 11, 12, 14 and 17 to join a cluster of players on three-under, including compatriot Power.
Adding to the challenge is the fact Woods hasn't putted on poa (annua) greens or chipped out of rye rough in a year. "I mean I'm in over 80th place and shot even par". Rolls chip shot 5 feet past pin, makes birdie putt.
But he was back at one-over after a bogey at the par-five 13th, where he was in the right rough off the tee.
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Woods narrowly missed a 28-foot birdie attempt at the par-three third hole, and he dropped another shot at the par-four fifth, where he was in a left fairway bunker off the tee and blasted out to a greenside bunker.
He played the par 5s in even par, and didn't give himself any other birdie chances inside 15 feet.
"Tomorrow, hopefully, I'll drive a little better, get my irons obviously a lot closer and we get the better of the two greens tomorrow". "We can't see anything land from back there".
But there was no mistaking his presence.
Notes: Tiger Woods plays his first official PGA Tour event in a year. He tied for 17th a year ago after withdrawing and two consecutive missed cuts from 2014-2016.
The overriding feature of Woods' day was how happy he looked to be back on the links. The fusion surgery eliminated the pain. You've got to swing a little bit smoother and make sure you get that center contact. Second from inside 150 yards again does not threaten the flag, but it's a safe two-putt from 25 feet for PAR. "A lot of names I haven't seen, I haven't played with, I haven't seen their games", he said.
"I'm looking forward to playing a full schedule and getting ready for the Masters and I haven't done that in a very long time", he said. The conditions and weather are supposed to be ideal again, with no wind or marine layer fog delaying the morning start times as has happened frequently in the past here. "I got off to a good start and was able to ride that momentum all the way through the round".
Tony Finau leads at 7-under, one ahead of Ted Potter Jr and Ryan Palmer, while Matt Jones is the best of the Australians at 3-under and T15. If you listened well enough, you could hear stories, such as the guy whose boss wouldn't let him out of a meeting on the playoff Monday of the 2008 U.S. Open, between Woods and Rocco Mediate, thus creating a lifelong melancholy for the employee.
"I hit a good putt", Woods said of the eagle try. "I missed one at 13, but I hit a lot of good ones, which is good, it's a good sign going into tomorrow".