Tiger Woods slams ‘awful’ short game

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Tiger Woods described his short game as “awful” after he carded a five-over-par 77 in the first round of the Hero World Challenge on his long-awaited return to action.

The 38-year-old former world number one and 14-time major winner looked rusty on his home course at Isleworth in Florida as he played his first game since missing the cut at the PGA Championship in August following a spell out recovering from surgery on a pinched nerve in his back.

Woods’ round started disastrously when he bogeyed the first hole after driving out of bounds to the left and then missed a 15-foot par putt on the second.

A bogey on the seventh and a double-bogey on the following hole saw him go into the turn on 41. Woods did improve on the back nine and managed a solitary birdie on the 12th, before dropping a shot on the next hold and finishing with six pars.

Woods, who is languishing in last place in the 18-man field of the tournament he annually hosts to benefit his foundation, said afterwards: “It was just one of those days where nothing goes your way.

“I feel like I didn’t hit it that poorly. I have zero pain and I haven’t said that in a long time. It’s nice to be able to launch it again.”

He added: “My short game was awful. I didn’t make anything. It certainly is surprising I could hit chips that poorly. I flubbed them. I hit some terrible chips.”

Last week’s Australian Open winner Jordan Spieth leads the way by one shot ahead of fellow Americans Zach Johnson, Steve Stricker and Rickie Fowler and Sweden’s Henrik Stenson.

The 21-year-old’s round included a birdie at the first followed by a run of five straight birdies from the sixth. His only blot on the copybook was a bogey on the 11th, before he birdied the 13th and then managed to par his way to the finish.

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