Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Tiger Woods is back on the course but with a whimper

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods' return to action after back surgery did not go exactly to plan as the world number five could manage only a three-over-par 74 in the opening round of the Quicken Loans National at Bethesda.

The 14-time major winner, playing his first event since undergoing a microdiscectomy in late March, struggled from the off and only a late flourish pulled things back. However, he was still seven shots off the early lead set by Ricky Barnes.

Beginning on the back nine, Woods found the back bunker at the par-three tee and missed a 15-foot putt for bogey.

His first drive of the day, which pre-tournament he admitted was the biggest issue in his recovery, found the middle of the fairway but it was his putting which let him down as a 40-foot birdie attempt travelled only half that distance and he bogeyed again.

Woods' first birdie came at the 467-yard 14th, where he nailed a three-wood to within 10 feet, but he gave that shot back at the next with a poor drive into the left rough.

A five-foot birdie putt at the next lipped out and he three-putted the 17th for another bogey and dropped another at the 18th as he turned four over.

After back-to-back bogeys at the second and third to leave him six over, Woods hit his 198-yard approach to four feet for birdie at the fourth and holed putts from similar distances at seven and eight to get back to three over.

"The score is not really indicative of how I played," said Woods. "I made so many little mistakes."

Asked how his back is feeling, Woods said: "The back's great. I had no issues at all. No twinges, no nothing. It felt fantastic. That's one reason why I let go on those tee shots. I hit it pretty hard out there.

"I unfortunately have been in my career on the sidelines enough, so it's always fun to come back out here and play against these guys."

  • Michael Hoey lies two shots off the lead after firing an opening round of six-under-par 66 at the BMW International Open in Cologne.

The Belfast player, who showed good form in tying for eighth place at last week's Irish Open, carded six birdies in a bogey-free round.

Hoey is one of six players who are two behind leaders, Rafa Cabrera-Bello of Spain, and England's Danny Willett. Ballyclare's Gareth Maybin is one under thanks to a first-round 71.

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