Tiger Woods and his amazing golf talents are back. Sort of.
At the end of Day 1 play, Woods found himself 2-under-par 68 on Thursday at Firestone Country Club. While nothing about that jumps off the page, it’s still a very solid tournament beginning for golf’s biggest star who hasn’t had anything to celebrate about in a very long time.
This event marked Woods’ first appearance on the PGA tour since he excused himself from the Players Championship back in May with knee and Achilles injuries that dated all the way back to the Masters.
"The amount of progress I made in my golf swing," Woods said after being asked what he discovered about himself under the pressure of competition. "The amount of compression I had in the golf ball, the shots I was hitting.
"I was hitting proper shots out there, and the distances I was hitting the golf ball, I hadn't hit the ball like this. This was fun, to be able to hit the ball with that much flush feeling the through the ball and speed I had. It was pretty nice."
As it stands, Woods is tied for 18th place at the WGC-Brigestone Invitational. In the past victories at this competition were all but a virtual certainty for the sport’s most polarizing star. Now, however, those six past wins seem like a distant memory.
"I hadn't really gone at it until basically today, just kind of plodding away, just kind of hitting shots," Woods said. "Today was just, let's go, let's go play, just put everything aside and let's go give it a go and try to post a low number."
When all was said and done on Thursday, Woods hit five fairways and 12 greens on 27 putts.
"I expect myself to be more prepared going into tomorrow," he said. "I've got the competitive feel now. I know what it feels like to get into the flow of the round, the rhythm of playing and walking, and just the flow of playing tournament golf, which is way different than zipping around in shorts and a cart.
"It feels great," Woods said. "As anybody who's been off and who's been injured, first time back, it's a little nervous to see what happens. But my practice sessions were good, so there's no reason why I should be worried out there. I went out there and just let it go, let it rip and see what happens."