Tiger Woods explains shocking moment in golf return as Aussie stars run riot

The golfing legend suffered a moment to forget in California on a day where two Aussie stars shone brightly.

Tiger Woods' shank on the 18th at the Genesis Invitational left golf fans in disbelief. Pic: Getty/PGA Tour
Tiger Woods' shank on the 18th at the Genesis Invitational left golf fans in disbelief. Pic: Getty/PGA Tour

Tiger Woods has endured a moment to forget on his long-awaited return to professional golf, after an uncharacteristic shank on the 18th hole during the first round of the Genesis Invitational. The crowds flocked to Pacific Palisades to see the 15-time major winner in action again, on a day where first round leader Patrick Cantlay and Aussie stars Jason Day and Cam Davis threatened to steal the show.

Woods is the host of the Genesis Invitational and was playing his first official PGA Tour event since his heartbreaking withdrawal at the Masters 10 months ago. The American legend had to pull out of the final day at Augusta National after defying the pain for three previous rounds and has been recovering from ankle surgery.

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The 48-year-old has battled a number of injuries after the car crash in 2021 that almost ended his career but showed flashes of brilliance in his opening round in California that included five birdies. Woods also had five bogeys on his card and was sitting at even par coming into the last hole, when he inexplicably sprayed a straightforward approach way right and into a tree, despite hitting it from the middle of the fairway.

Woods' resulting punch from the rough near the tree gave him a 15-foot putt for par but his effort slipped left of the hole and he had to settle for another bogey to finish at one-over in a tie for 52nd. The horror approach shot from Woods on 18 sent social media into meltdown, with many claiming they'd never seen him hit a worse shot. Woods later explaining that a back spasm was behind the shock moment.

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“My back spasmed... it locked up on my, didn’t move, didn’t rotate,” Woods said about his shocker on the 18th. “It had been spasming for the final three holes. We’ve got some treatment ahead of us, that’s part of the deal.

"My round was good and a little bit indifferent. I didn’t feel like I hit a lot of greens. I was stressing out on the short game. I had five pars today or something stupid, it was either birdies or bogeys."

Aussies Cam Davis and Jason Day shine in round one

Tiger's forgettable moment on 18 came as Aussie duo Day and Davis both fired spectacular six-under 65s to sit just one stroke back from clubhouse leader, Cantlay. The in-form Davis Davis caught fire on the back nine with five birdies and looks to be a dangerous prospect after his top-20 finish at Pebble Beach last week.

“The start to the year’s been a little slow, but I haven’t really had a lot of poor rounds, it’s just been a lot of kind of milling around in the background on the leaderboard while everyone else is tearing it up,” Davis said. “So I’m hoping my little trend upwards up the leaderboard can continue. I did play a lot of nice golf at Pebble. Obviously would just love to keep this going and keep playing the golf that I’m playing right now because I think that could lead to some better things.”

Pictured left to right, Aussie golf stars Cam Davis and Jason Day.
Aussie stars Cam Davis and Jason Day are in a tie for second after the first round of the signature PGA Tour event, the Genesis Invitational. Pic: Getty

Davis' Aussie compatriot Day was particularly impressive in his bogey-free round that included six birdies and six straight pars to start his round in the $US20 million ($A31 million) Signature PGA Tour event. Cantlay raced into the clubhouse lead after opening with a brilliant seven-under round of 64. The American carded an impressive eight birdies and just the solitary bogey to sit one shot clear of Day, Davis and American Luke List.

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