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                                                                                                       SPORTS Saturday 2 december 2017

            Woods atop leaderboard, but only briefly in the Bahamas

            By DOUG FERGUSON             Woods delivered plenty on
             AP Golf Writer              his  own.  He  opened  with
            NASSAU,  Bahamas  (AP)       three  birdies  in  four  holes.
            —  One  of  the  biggest     He made three good pars,
            cheers  at  the  Hero  World   one of them having to chip
            Challenge    came     from   up the slope from a thin lie
            seeing  the  name  Tiger     on  No.  8,  and  then  really
            Woods  moved  to  the  top   raised hopes with his eagle
            of the leaderboard.          on  the  par-5  ninth,  set  up
            It just wasn’t there for long.  by a 3-wood into the wind
            In   another     impressive   from 265 yards.
            showing    in   his   latest   “Hit up in the air and took
            comeback      from   back    something off of it and cut
            surgeries, Woods built on a   it  back  into  the  wind,”  he
            solid start with a 31 on the   said.
            front  nine  at  Albany  Golf   He  made  the  20-foot  putt
            Club that briefly gave him   to  reach  8  under.  Behind
            the lead Friday. He stalled   him, Hoffman made bogey
            on the back nine with a pair   on the par-3 eighth. Woods
            of bogeys and not enough     was  alone  in  the  lead,
            birdie  chances,  and  he    and  the  workers  at  the
            settled for a 4-under 68.    white  scoreboard  to  the
            “Successful,”  Woods  said,   left  of  the  green  quickly
            when asked to describe his   moved  his  name  to  the     Tiger Woods tees off from hole 16 during the Hero World Challenge golf tournament at
            round in one word.           top  as  some  100  people    Albany Golf Club in Nassau, Bahamas, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017.
            When  the  second  round     —  that  constitutes  a  large                                                                     Associated Press
            ended,  Woods  was  five     gallery this week — began
            shots    behind    Charley   cheering.  There  was  a      Woods  has  79  victories  on  Woods  didn’t  make  a    Otherwise,    he   looked
            Hoffman,  who  had  a  63    smattering of “He’s back!”
            that  might  have  sent  fans   and  even  a  few  mentions   the  PGA  Tour,  compared  bogey  until  a  three-putt   like  any  of  the  other  elite
                                                                                                                                players  at  Albany.  And
                                                                       with  81  for  the  rest  of  the  from  30  feet  on  the  12th
            into  a  frenzy  if  they  had   about the Masters.
            been watching.               Woods  missed  it.  He  was   field. But he hasn’t won in  hole.  The  greens  were    while he wasn’t sure what
                                                                                                                                to expect coming into the
                                                                       more than four years, and  quicker,  and  that’s  where
            Hoffman  made  12  birdies,   on  his  way  to  the  10th
            closing  with  five  in  a  row   tee. By the time he saw a   this  is  only  his  20th  start  he  struggled.  He  had  an   week, his expectations are
                                                                                                                                getting stronger with each
                                                                       since the first of four back  eagle  attempt  from  just
            .  He  was  at  12-under  132   leaderboard, it was getting
            and had a three-shot lead    crowded  at  the  top  with   surgeries  in  the  spring  of  short  of  the  15th  green,   round, especially this one.
                                                                                                                                “I  felt  like  today  I  could
            over Jordan Spieth (67) and   Hoffman  making  his  run,                               about  45  feet  away,  that
            Tommy  Fleetwood  (69).      Spieth chipping in for birdie   He had played only seven  he ran 15 feet by the hole.   have  easily  gotten  to
                                                                       rounds  dating  to  August  He missed that for a three-
                                                                                                                                double  digits  under  par,”
            Hoffman  made  only  one     and  setting  up  another
            par over his final 12 holes to   with  a  tough  chip,  and   2015,  and  this  was  his  first  putt par.          he said. “That would have
                                                                                                                                put  me  probably  one  or
                                                                       competition  in  10  months.  He  still  played  the  par
            go along with eight birdies   Fleetwood  overcoming  a
            and three bogeys.            double bogey-bogey start      He  had  fusion  surgery  on  5s  in  4  under,  a  five-shot   two  back,  but  I  think  I’m
                                                                                                                                still  in  it.  We’ve  got  two
                                                                       his lower back in April.
            But  this  week,  a  holiday   to his back nine with three                             improvement     from   the
            exhibition  with  an  18-man   straight birdies.           “You’ve got to be anxious  opening round.                more  days,  and  I  think  it’s
                                                                                                                                supposed  to  blow  a  little
                                                                       —  doesn’t  matter  who  And
            field and no cut, is all about   “I  saw  somewhere  on  the                                  he    showed     his
            Woods.  That  much  was      back nine, I think there was   it  is,  doesn’t  matter  how  creative  side  on  the  par-  harder  to  tomorrow.  If
                                                                                                                                that’s  the  case,  I  think  a
                                                                       well he’s been in the past  3 17th. Facing a long putt
            obvious after the round.     like  five  guys  at  8  under
            Hoffman spoke to no more     or  something  like  that,    at   handling   pressure,”  over a hump with the grain   good,  solid  round  should
                                                                       Spieth said. “It’s still a new  running  away  from  him,
                                                                                                                                get me up there.”
            than  five  reporters  about   something weird like that,”
            his  round,  while  a  dozen   Woods said.                 experience for him to have  Woods chose to chip it off   That depends on Hoffman.
                                                                                                                                “I said at the beginning of
                                                                       that little golf. And to come  the  putting  surface  and
            others were about 30 feet    A  case  could  be  made
            away     surrounding   Joe   that his name among them      out  and  play  competitive  along the fringe to be able   the week, I hope he wins,”
                                                                                                                                Hoffman said. “It’s great for
                                                                       golf and work his way into  to better judge the speed.
            LaCava,  Woods’  caddie,     was weird.
            looking  for  any  additional   His past is enough to merit   contention,  that’s  what’s  It settled 3 feet away for a   the game of golf. q
                                                                       really exceptional.”
            morsel about his round.      legend  status  in  this  field.                          par.
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