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Round recap: Tiger Woods cards 70 Friday at Hero World Challenge

16 Min Read


Round recap: Tiger Woods cards 70 Friday at Hero World Challenge

    Written by Cameron Morfit @CMorfitPGATOUR

    Tiger Woods making a comeback on the Bahamian shores should ring a bell. He’s done it before.

    The Woods-hosted Hero World Challenge has served as the 82-time PGA TOUR winner’s defacto testing grounds as he’s recovered from myriad injuries. And it will do so again this week.

    Woods played his first PGA TOUR round Thursday since withdrawing during the third round of the Masters with plantar fasciitis. He posted a 3-over 75 and sits 18th on the leaderboard, eight shots behind first-round co-leaders Brian Harman and Tony Finau. Woods spent the last seven months outside the limelight, recovering from his right ankle fusion surgery in April.

    A 15-time major winner, Woods will turn 48 next month and has not played in the Hero – a tournament he’s won five times – since 2019.

    Woods cut his 18-hole pro-am short on Wednesday, opting to play just the front nine at Albany Golf Club and conserve his energy. He has played in just five tournaments since his 2021 car accident and has completed a full 72 holes just twice.

    “I'm excited to compete and play, and I'm just as curious as all of you are to see what happens because I haven't done it in a while,” Woods said earlier in the week.

    Following his round Thursday, Woods noted: “Physically I knew I was going to be OK. Mentally, I was really rusty and made a lot of errors in the mind that normally I don't make.”

    Woods will tee off at 11:02 a.m. ET on Friday with Rickie Fowler, who carded a 2-over 74 on Thursday.

    Read on for live updates from Tiger's second round at the Hero World Challenge.

    Hello, all, and welcome to Round 2 of the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. Just like yesterday, Tiger Woods will tee it up with a good friend, going from Justin Thomas to, now, Rickie Fowler. Woods shot 75 in the first round and pronounced himself mentally rusty, which was plain to see, especially as the day wore on. Fatigue will be something he's got to overcome in his first competitive action since he WD'd from the Masters in April. He'll also turn 48 on Dec. 30. We'll see whether he can remain mentally sharper throughout the round today.

    Hole 18 (par 4, 456 yards): Tiger's tee shot on the last runs just through the fairway into the rough. He comes up short with his approach, but is able to convert a tough up-and-down for par.

    Not that he's trying to teach us anything, but Tiger has reminded what a fine line it is at the very top of professional golf.

    He has looked, at times, like his vintage self, but as Paul McGinley just said on Golf Channel, "He's making mistakes that are uncharacteristic." And it doesn't take a very big mistake at that level to find yourself falling well behind.

    Tiger's par at 18 gives him a 2-under 70, all in all a better effort than Round 1, but still with much to work on. He's 1 over for the tournament, and will go into the weekend well off the lead. As long as he keeps moving well, he'll have a chance to figure it out.

    2-under 70 on Friday
    1-over for the tournament
    10/13 fairways hit; 14/18 greens in regulation

    Hole 17 (par 3, 168 yards): All in all, Woods has been noticeably sharper from tee to green in Round 2, and after finding the green at the par-3 17th rolls in a long, left-to-right birdie putt with some pace on it.

    Tiger Woods uses the entire cup on 29-foot birdie putt at Hero World Challenge

    That makes him 2 under on the day, 1 over for the tournament. That was his first birdie since the 7th hole, about two and a half hours ago, and it will leave a slightly better taste on what has been another bittersweet back nine.

    You'd have to say that Woods has given away about three shots on the back nine, one with a three-putt bogey from inside 20 feet; one with a missed 5-footer; and one by putting it into a greenside bunker. If there's one obvious sign of his long layoff, it's these mental lapses.

    2-under on Friday through 17
    1-over for the tournament
    10/12 fairways hit; 14/17 greens in regulation

    Hole 16 (par 4, 472 yards): Tiger finds the fairway on 16 but misses the green right and short from about 220, and can't get up and down from a terrible lie.

    That's his second straight bogey and third in the last four holes. He's now 1 under on the round, 2 over for the tournament, and is in danger of repeating his late fade from Thursday. Without playing competitively, it's hard to remain sharp for the full four-plus hours of a round, and this presents perhaps his biggest issue and his biggest challenge going forward.

    He said he'll play once a month in '24, best case, but without the competitive reps, it's very, very hard to be mentally sharp in that third and fourth hour of a round.

    1-under on Friday through 16
    2-over for the tournament
    10/12 fairways hit; 13/16 greens in regulation

    Hole 15 (par 5, 543 yards): Woods splits the fairway at the par-5 15th hole, which is way better than he did here yesterday, when he drove it into a bush and eventually made double.

    Tiger's tee shot at the par-5 15th travels an eye-popping 370 yards and finds the fairway, so that's not the problem. The problem, as he alluded to after the first round, is mental fatigue leading to a lack of focus and commitment.

    He short-sided himself with his second from 182, the ball finding the left greenside bunker; hit a poor bunker shot; putted it BACK into the bunker; and got up and down for bogey.

    2-under on Friday through 15
    1-over for the tournament
    9/11 fairways hit; 13/15 greens in regulation

    Hole 14 (par 4, 301 yards): Woods with another solid tee shot at the driveable par-4 14th and that leaves him in a low spot and needing to chip up a steep bank onto the green.

    Decent second shot comes up about 5 feet short, and he pulls the birdie try and settles for another par. Another missed opportunity, and now he comes to 15, where he hit his worst tee shot of the day in Round 1.

    Tom Lehman once told me the best advice on Ryder Cup nerves was to "get committed and swing." This is where Tiger said he had problems Thursday. So far he's been better from tee to green today, but has suddenly looked a bit wobbly with the putter. Essentially gave away one, arguably two shots the last two holes on the greens.

    3-under on Friday through 14
    Even for the tournament
    8/10 fairways hit; 12/14 greens in regulation

    Hole 13 (par 4, 502 yards): After blasting a 359-yard tee shot at the 13th, Tiger hits a so-so approach from 152 to about 20 feet for birdie. He started this round red-hot, 4 under through seven holes, but has cooled a bit with five-straight pars, including two on par-5s.

    Three-putt bogey on 13 drops Tiger to 3 under for the day and even par for the tournament, and he's about to come to the part of the course that gave him so much trouble Thursday. This is what he was talking about yesterday with mental lapses. I've got to believe he was trying to force something with that birdie putt, which was hit too hard. Hasn't made a birdie in about 90 minutes.

    3-under on Friday through 13
    Even for the tournament
    7/9 fairways hit; 11/13 greens in regulation

    Hole 12 (par 3, 204 yards): A solid 4-iron from Woods at the par-3 12th finds the green, albeit 40 feet short of the hole.

    To watch Woods in his prime, up close, was to be dazzled by the speed (and the sound) with which he moved through the ball, especially with the long irons. He's still got that. He's also still got the course management. What will take longest to recover is the ability to finish his rounds, and, after that, the ability to string four rounds together.

    A casual two-putt from distance keeps the round going.

    4-under on Friday through 12
    1-under for the tournament
    6/8 fairways hit; 10/12 greens in regulation

    Hole 11 (par 5, 566 yards): Another fairway hit for Tiger at the par-5 11th hole, and now, more than two hours into the round, we have to remember the mental stamina part of the equation. Can he bring this very good round to the house or will a slight lapse in focus cost him as it did Thursday?

    Uncharacteristic mistake by Tiger at the par-5 11th as he misses the green from just 95 yards in the middle of the fairway. Instead of a birdie look, he's left himself with an up-and-down challenge and bump-and-runs it to 6 feet, 2 inches. Although he pours in the par putt, it's not quite what he had in mind and a far cry from the way he played the 5s in his prime. That will have to come later.

    4-under on Friday through 11
    1-under for the tournament
    6/8 fairways hit; 9/11 greens in regulation

    Hole 10 (par 4, 635 yards): Steve Sands on the broadcast sums up Woods at nearly 48: "He's managing the game that he can play with now; this is not 15 years ago." And you'd have to say he's doing a fine job of it.

    Despite tee shot coming to rest in an awkward spot next to the fairway bunker on 10, Woods takes very little time and hits a little three-quarter shot onto the green. Should be able to get out of there with a par and get back on offense.

    Woods’ second shot at the 10th is as good an example as any that he remains confident in that fused ankle. In the few precarious positions he has found himself in over the first two days, he’s hardly taken any time to set his feet and play. There’s a lack of mobility, yes. But there’s no passiveness.

    Woods routine two-putt par on 10.

    What's striking about Tiger is not just his four birdies on the front side but the total absence of pain and anguish on his face from the plantar fasciitis that knocked him out of the Masters. Somewhere, a subtalar fusion surgeon is smiling.

    4-under on Friday through 10
    1-under for the tournament
    5/7 fairways hit; 8/10 greens in regulation

    Hole 9 (par 5, 635 yards): Tiger finds the fairway again at the par-5 ninth and is suddenly four off the lead, 4 under on the day. He's never won the Hero since it moved to Albany in '15, but what's really interesting is all the places we've got coming up in early '24 where he has won. The upcoming season is getting spicier with every Woods birdie, and every pain-free step.

    Woods' speed is still better than TOUR average, and he was a good 10 yards past Fowler off the tee at the ninth. Tiger's second, a fairway wood from 298, curves in there from left to right and bounds just over the green. He'll need to get up and down again for his fifth birdie of the day but hits a mediocre chip and can't convert from 13 feet.

    Par and 32 on the front, which is still pretty darn good for a guy who hasn't played a competitive round since April.

    4-under on Friday through 9
    1-under for the tournament
    5/6 fairways hit; 7/9 greens in regulation

    Hole 8 (par 3, 214 yards): Tiger's tee shot on the long par-3 comes up short, leaving himself short sided with a tricky path to saving par.

    Tiger hit that exact bump and run into the hole short of the par-3 eighth green during his Wednesday pro-am. This one comes up a bit short and leaves him a tester for par. First real stress of the day… and he buries it. He’s in a zone.

    There are three par 5s on the front nine at Albany, and if Tiger can find a way to birdie the third one, at No. 9, he will have shot 31 on the front nine. Rust? What rust?

    4-under on Friday through 8
    1-under for the tournament
    4/5 fairways hit; 6/8 greens in regulation

    Hole 7 (par 4, 344 yards): Woods tee shot comes up just short of the green at the reachable par-4 seventh hole, but a chip to 30 inches or so and a tap-in birdie has him to 4 under on the day, 1 under overall.

    Tiger Woods cards four birdies in first seven holes at Hero

    He said he wasn't mentally sharp Thursday and wanted to work on that. Job done, apparently.

    4-under on Friday through 7
    1-under for the tournament
    4/5 fairways hit; 6/7 greens in regulation

    Hole 6 (par 5, 579 yards): Woods gets up and down from the greenside bunker to birdie the par-5 sixth hole and is now 3 under on the day. It's a good sign for many reasons, among them the fact that he's historically feasted on the 5s, with roughly a 4.5 scoring average. His 4.37 average on the par 5s in his best season, 2000, was .13 better than second best Vijay Singh.

    3-under on Friday through 6
    Even for the tournament
    4/4 fairways hit; 5/6 greens in regulation

    Hole 5 (par 3, 162 yards): Looks like a routine par at the par-3 fifth. Green. Two putts. Ho hum.

    An update on Woods’ gait is really not an update at all. It looks good! A continuation of what we saw yesterday. He looks comfortable and unbothered through 23 holes of competition play

    2-under on Friday through 5
    1-over for the tournament
    3/3 fairways hit; 4/5 greens in regulation

    Hole 4 (par 4, 481 yards): Tiger’s hands are alive and well.

    His approach shot missed just short of the green on the 481-yard par-4 fourth, but a delicate bump and run through the grainy Bermuda grass trickled to within four feet. He saved par. These are the up and downs that Tiger has made looked routine for so long. But I promise you, that was not routine. Woods looking sharp through four holes.

    2-under on Friday through 4
    1-over for the tournament
    3/3 fairways hit; 3/4 greens in regulation

    Hole 3 (par 5, 546 yards): Among the bugaboos in Woods’ first round was his par-5 scoring. He played the five par 5s in 1-over, a fact that quite annoyed him.

    He won’t feel any better after his first par-5 today. In ideal position after his tee shot with just 220 yards left to the third green, Woods dumped his approach in the right greenside bunker. He left himself 10 feet for birdie, but missed on the low-side.

    Still, 2-under through three holes is encouraging. It’s one shot better than he played the opening stretch on Thursday.

    Fowler eagled the third, Woods par, which means they are 4 under through three, best ball. Some good mojo in this group. In Fowler, Woods is playing with his second straight fellow PLAYERS champion (Justin Thomas yesterday) of the five in the 20-man field. The others include defending PLAYERS champ Scottie Scheffler, and Jason Day.

    Tiger isn't the only one making a comeback today. After his disastrous 81, Will Zalatoris has eagled the third hole and is 3 under through five holes.

    2-under on Friday through 3
    1-over for the tournament
    2/2 fairways hit; 3/3 greens in regulation

    Hole 2 (par 3, 179 yards): Woods missed his tee shot right of the 178-yard par-3 second hole on Thursday and left himself a tough up and down from the bunker.

    He remedied that today. Woods carved in what might be his best iron shot of the week to within 5 feet of a tucked left pin and drained the putt.

    It’s a great start to the day and a great sign that Woods’ body recovered as he liked after his first day of competition. He admitted after is first round that he was sore “everywhere.” Whatever afflictions he is feeling thus far aren’t yet visible in his performance.

    2-under on Friday through 2
    1-over for the tournament
    1/1 fairways hit; 2/2 greens in regulation

    Hole 1 (par 4, 426 yards): Just like he did in Round 1, Woods splits the first fairway with his drive. Lots of analysis of his return to competitive action. He wore down mentally as the day went on, he didn't hit enough fairways and greens, etc. I was more interested in his body language when it was over. Woods was all smiles, which told me he got what he wanted out of the round. Namely, he was not in extreme pain. As long as he can move freely, and as long as he feels well enough to keep going, he has to feel confident he'll figure it out as he goes.

    It’s considerably more humid out here today. Woods has reached for his towel multiple times already. It should keep the back loose, but stamina will remain a question as it’s only forecasted to get warmer throughout the day.

    Birdie at the first for Tiger. Will be interesting to watch as he plays his way back into some semblance of form.

    Tiger Woods opens Round 2 with birdie at Hero World Challenge

    The golf knowledge is off the charts, and if his body allows, he's going to figure out a way. This week I wrote about Kirk Gibson's famous home run off Dennis Eckersley at the 1988 World Series, when Gibson could barely walk. What I did not mention is that Gibson knew what was coming; the scouting report said Eckersley would throw a backdoor slider on a 3-2 count, which is what happened. You get the feeling Tiger is like Gibson in '88, operating with just a little bit more knowledge than the competition.

    1-under on Friday through 1
    2-over for the tournament
    1/1 fairways hit; 1/1 greens in regulation

    10:38 a.m.: Same routine for Woods to start day two here. He arrived at the putting green about an hour before his tee time and hit putts for about 10 minutes before heading to the short game area.

    It was a part of his game that flashed brilliance during his opening round. He holed three birdie putts over 20 feet, including a 48-footer on No. 11. It was also an area that showed some rust. He hit a poor bunker shot on No. 7 that led to a disappointing par on the drivable par-4. He also three-putted for bogey on the par-3 17th for his third straight hole of bogey or worse as he closed his round.

    Will those brief moments of rust stick around today? Or will he show a refined short game during his second loop around Albany Golf Club?

    Cameron Morfit is a Staff Writer for the PGA TOUR. He has covered rodeo, arm-wrestling, and snowmobile hill climb in addition to a lot of golf. Follow Cameron Morfit on Twitter.

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