Tiger Woods Returns; Rusty, But Back on PGA Tour
After 109 days outside the ropes, Tiger Woods returned to the PGA Tour Thursday, showing that his surgically repaired back is fine, if not his swing.
Woods carded a 3-over 74 after seven bogeys in the opening round of the Quicken LoansNational, a tournament that benefits his Tiger Woods Foundation. That’s why he surprised fans by announcing last week that he would make his return this week.
The rust was evident, as Woods missed many routine-for-him scramble opportunities at the difficult Congressional Country Club outside of Washington, D.C.. He was 6 over par at one point, but rallied in his last six holes to score three birdies.
”I made so many little mistakes,” Woods said. ”So I played a lot better than the score indicated.”
From a health standpoint, he said he was fine. ‘The back’s great,” he said. ”I had no issues at all – no twinges, no nothing. It felt fantastic. That’s one of the reasons why I let go on those tee shots. I hit it pretty hard out there.”
Woods last played at Doral on March 9, when he closed with a 78 while coping with pain in his lower back. He had microdiscectomy surgery March 31, causing him to miss the Masters and U.S. Open.
He made it clear the surprise return was not risking further injury by playing now.
Woods found some rhythm on his home holes, hitting an approach from 196 yards on the 467-yard fourth hole to 3 feet, and ending with short birdie putts on the par-3 seventh and short par-4 eighth by wisely using the slopes in the greens to feed it close to the hole.
More telling was his final hole. He thought he had a chance to end his round with a 35-foot birdie putt, and as it broke just right of the cup, he quickly dropped to a crouch and then rose up to go mark his ball. That was the best evidence there was no problem with his back.
”We saw what happened when he found his rhythm,” one of his Thursday playing partners, Jordan Spieth said.