Tiger Woods got off to a fast start on Friday and briefly held the outright lead in the second round of the Hero World Challenge before finishing with a four-under-par 68, tied for fifth, as his comeback continued in the Bahamas.
The solid effort, which included an eagle, four birdies and two bogeys, left the former world No. 1 at seven-under 137 in his first tournament in nearly 10 months following spinal fusion surgery.
“I proved the surgery is successful and the rehab is fantastic,” Woods told Golf Channel when asked about his play over the first two days of the elite 18-man event that features eight of the world’s top 10.
“Now I have a chance to go out there and play competitive golf again,” he added.
Charley Hoffman’s nine-under 63, which included 12 birdies, put him in command at 12-under 132, three strokes ahead of Jordan Spieth (67) and England’s Tommy Fleetwood (69).
Fleetwood’s countryman Justin Rose (68) was alone in fourth on eight-under, with Woods a stroke back alongside Matt Kuchar and Rickie Fowler, who both shot 70s, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama (66) and Italy’s Francesco Molinari (68).
Woods, who on Thursday had a 69, made an impressive start to the second round with birdies on three of his first four holes. Then came the eagle at the par-five ninth that pushed him to a one-stroke lead at the turn.
Another birdie at No. 11 had him six-under for the day before he three-putted the par-three 12th hole for his first bogey of the round.
Woods, who turns 42 on Dec. 30, delivered pars for his next five holes before a bad drive at the last left him in trouble and resulted in a second bogey.
“I still have a long way to go,” said Woods, who last won a tournament in 2013. “It’s going to take time, a lot more practice, a lot more training and more tournaments.”
Hoffman also had a bright start with six birdies and a bogey on the front nine and pulled away on the back side with six more birdies and two bogeys.
Woods has 79 victories on the PGA Tour, compared with 81 for the rest of the field, but he has not won in more than four years. This is only his 20th start since the first of four back surgeries in the spring of 2014.
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