Published: 09:25 | 1/12/17

Woods feeling "great" after firing three-under on his return

Tiger Woods said he feels "great" after shooting a three-under par 69 in his first competitive round in nearly a year at the World Hero Challenge in the Bahamas.

The 14-time Major winner, who is now pain free after undergoing a fourth back operation, had not struck a ball in anger since withdrawing from the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in February with back spasms.

The 41-year-old had held the No.1 spot in the world rankings for a record 683 weeks but cast doubts on his return to the game as his ranking plummeted to 1199.

But a sold round of 69 put him in a three-way tie for eighth place after the first round, three shots off the lead held by Race to Dubai winner Tommy Fleetwood.

"I though it was great," he told the Golf Channel. "I've not played in a while. After some of the difficulties I've been through to come out here and sore like I did that was nice.

"It was fun to tee-off and be part of a score card again. I didn't know what I could do. I've been playing a lot of golf at home, but it is a little more difficult to tee-off at a tournament.

"I had a lot of adrenaline going on there. I was hitting the ball longer than I normally do and had to hold back a bit. Those are the internal struggles that I haven't been through as a player for a while."

The Tiger fist-pump was in evidence as Woods struck five birdies in his round, but was left frustrated with two bogey sixes, which included going out of bounds on the 15th.

He enjoyed a run of four birdies in seven holes around the turn that briefly took him to within one stroke of the lead, but his short game, particularly his chipping, prevented him from challenging the leaders.

Americans Ricky Fowler and Matt Kuchar sit one stroke off the lead, while England's Justin Rose is among four names on four-under.

Woods, who was playing with his friend and FedEx Cup champions Justin Thomas, finished 15 out of a field of 17 in the same tournament last year having returned from a 15-month lay-off.

He will be paired with Sweden's Henrik Stenson in Friday's second round in the 18-field tournament that has not cut.

Image: Getty/ Mike Ehmann

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