"I'm proud": Tiger Woods finishes under par on return to golf

Tiger Masters Round 1

Tiger Woods finished under par to complete a remarkable return to golf, 508 days after his last tournament round.

How the 15-time major winner would play was something of an unknown given this was his first competitive round of golf, other than the PNC in December, since before last year’s serious car crash.

But any fears he may not be able to cope with the rigours of major championship golf were quickly dispelled with a round of one-under containing just two bogeys – both of which were avoidable.

After walking off the 18th, Woods paid tribute to his “team” who helped him prepare for his return.

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“I am proud of my whole team. We worked so hard,” he told Sky Sports.

“A lot of people don’t know how hard we worked each and every day. I got out of bed after those three months [after the crash] and there were no days off.

“We did something every single day and that led me to this.”

It was a steady start for Woods, who began with five consecutive pars. He appeared to click into gear with his second shot at the fifth, a beautifully-struck long iron which he struck to around 15 feet.

Woods then followed that up with a near-hole-in-one at six, stiffing his tee shot to two feet and allowing himself a tap-in birdie to move into the red.

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His normally-reliable short game deserted him on the eighth, two poor chips leading to a bogey six.

But the five-time Masters champion recovered, successfully negotiating Amen Corner in one-under after a birdie at the 13th.

At various points throughout the round he could be seen grimacing, and he was clearly in some discomfort, shouting “Come on, leg” after a hooked drive on 14 which contributed to a bogey.

Tiger Woods Masters

However, he did display his famed powers of recovery. That drive on 14 left him in the trees – but a miracle shot put him in a good position at the back of the green.

Woods was back in the red at 16, the site of perhaps his most iconic moment. A decent tee shot left him 29 feet for birdie, which he promptly rolled in to the delight of the patrons.

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Most troublesome throughout the round was the driver, which found trouble on several occasions. Woods ended up a long way left on the last – so much so that he was forced to lay up with his second. But once again he was able to save the day with an up-and-down, pitching it close and holing the putt for a closing par.

All that added up to a round of 71 – an extraordinary feat for a man who suffered such devastating injuries.

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