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A tropical breeze replaced the raging wind and made golf a lot easier for Patrick Reed, Tiger Woods and just about everyone else Thursday in the Hero World Challenge.
U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland and Patrick Reed, who will be part of the U.S. team next week at Royal Melbourne, each managed a tough wind in the Bahamas to post a 6-under 66 and share the lead after the opening round of a tournament that felt more like a Presidents Cup tune-up.
Jon Rahm hardly missed a shot and found golf easy Friday on his way to a 9-under 63, giving him a share of the lead with Henrik Stenson going into the weekend at the Hero World Challenge. Tiger Woods stayed eight shots behind, and an 18-month-old rules decision kept him from being a further stroke back.
Patrick Reed and Tiger Woods are about as far apart as can be on the leaderboard after one round of the Hero World Challenge. Only they know how close they are after the Ryder Cup fallout. Reed shared the lead with Patrick Cantlay, eight shots ahead of Woods. Both say they have talked about Reed’s comments after the Ryder Cup, without sharing the conversation.
It wasn’t the best shot Tiger Woods hit all week. It might have been the most telling.
Rickie Fowler was the first player to offer a scouting report on Tiger Woods ahead of his celebrated return to golf, hinting that Woods was hitting it “way by” him in some of their matches in Florida.
Charley Hoffman handled the blustery conditions with a 2-under 70 and a five-shot lead in the Hero World Challenge as Tiger Woods fell 10 shots behind. The wind was the strongest it has been all week at Albany Golf Club, and it took the air out of hopes that Woods’ return to competition would find him in the mix at his holiday tournament.
Tiger Woods looked a lot better in his return to golf than he did when he left. Playing for the first time since his fourth back surgery, Woods returned from a 10-month layoff with a 3-under 69 on a breezy Thursday in the Bahamas and was three shots behind Tommy Fleetwood after the opening round of the Hero World Challenge.
Play it again, Tiger Woods. For the second straight year, Woods will return from back surgery at his holiday tournament in the Bahamas the week after Thanksgiving.