Tiger returns with 69, 3 off Fleetwood’s lead

Tiger Woods showed flashes of the form that made him the best golfer in the world for much of his career, shooting 3-under-par 69, and is three strokes behind leader Tommy Fleetwood of England in a tie for eighth after round one of the Hero World Challenge at Albany Resort in New Providence, Bahamas.

Woods, playing competitively for the first time in 301 days and after his fourth back surgery in recent years, collected five birdies. A chunked chip shot and an errant drive into an unplayable lie led to his only bogeys on the par-5 ninth and 15th holes.

“I thought I did great, considering I hadn’t played for a while and the different things I’ve been through,” said Woods, who has 14 major titles among his 79 PGA Tour victories.

“It was fun to be out there playing with a scorecard.

“I didn’t know what to expect even though I have been playing a lot at home, because it’s different playing in a tournament. I had some adrenaline going and had to dial it back a little bit. I made some putts to keep the momentum going and I could be tied for the lead if not for those two 6s.”

Woods is host of the tournament that benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation and has won it a record five times.

Fleetwood, coming off a career season in which he captured the Race to Dubai on the European Tour, collected four of his six birdies on the front nine in a bogey-free 66 and is one shot ahead of ninth-ranked Rickie Fowler of Murrieta and Matt Kuchar.

“I hit it nice and putted well,” said Fleetwood, who will marry his manager, Clare Craig, on Tuesday at Albany. “I hit a lot of real good shots. It’s always nice to play bogey-free and I was able to take advantage of the birdies holes.

“It’s getting close (to the wedding) and we’re on countdown now. It’s great to be here and there’s a nice vibe.”

Kevin Chappell of Fresno and UCLA totaled 68 and is tied for fourth with top-ranked Dustin Johnson, second-ranked Jordan Spieth and sixth-ranked Justin Rose of England, while Woods is tied for eighth at 69 with third-ranked Justin Thomas, the PGA champion and PGA Tour Player of the Year, Charley Hoffman of Poway and UNLV, and Francesco Molinari of Italy.

Defending champion Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, ranked fifth, is tied for 14th at 71.

For complete results, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html.

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