Tiger Woods has sent golf fans into a frenzy after producing a birdie on his first hole in a PGA Tour event in 884 days, before finishing two-under in stunning scenes. The 47-year-old made his long-awaited return to the PGA Tour on Thursday, teeing off at the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club.
The 15-time major champion hadn't played an official PGA Tour event since suffering significant injuries in a car accident in 2021. However he made his triumphant return on Thursday - and started off with a bang.
Woods produced a brilliant chip onto the green and nailed his birdie putt to go -1 with a four on the par-5. Unfortunately he produced a bogey not long after that sent him back to even-par, but golf fans were still delighted with the way the American champion started.
One TV commentator described Woods' birdie as 'extraordinary' considering it was the first hole he'd played at an official PGA Tour event in 884 days. The golf icon then got back into the red with another birdie on the 8th hole, before falling back to one-over with a couple of bogeys on the back nine.
But in extraordinary scenes, Woods produced three-consecutive birdies on the 16th, 17th and 18th to finish at -2 for the first round. The incredible finish sent the golf world into meltdown.
What an absolute show Tiger Woods put on today. Now comes the hard part—a 14-hour turnaround before tomorrow's morning tee time. It'll be chilly at Riviera. But it's inarguable that he surpassed all expectations today. 69. Nice.
— Dan Rapaport (@Daniel_Rapaport) February 17, 2023
Even now, golf is so much better with Tiger Woods in it. What a finish.
— Dave Gray (@djg23) February 17, 2023
— Jonathan Shelton (@J_Shelton) February 17, 2023
— Robert Thrippleton (@thripps89) February 17, 2023
Woods did play three of the majors in 2022, but hadn't played a PGA Tour event since his accident. He has been limited the past two years by the severe leg injuries he suffered in the February 2021 wreck.
He acknowledged earlier this week that his fitness remained an unknown factor. "As far as the recovery, it's more of my ankle, whether I can recover day to day," Woods said on Tuesday. "My leg is better. ... It's been an intricate balance, a little dance.
"It's gotten so much better the last couple months. I wouldn't put myself out here if I didn't think I could beat these guys."
— 💁🏼♀️Colléén (@SportsFamsRock) February 16, 2023
Tiger Woods opens up his first round at the Genesis Invitational with a birdie. You simply love to see it. pic.twitter.com/0ORCj5eskR
— A 'Sip with the Dudez (@SipWithDudez) February 16, 2023
It’s always great to see this legend. I now know how stressful it is swinging a golf club. Golf is definitely a physical sport.
— Miles Roberto (@bballmystic) February 16, 2023
King is back on his throne 🤴
— $Link Marine 💪💯🎯 (@link_we80825403) February 16, 2023
Glad to see you at it, Tiger. Have fun!
— m1nd of raemi (@MindOfRaemi) February 16, 2023
Tiger Woods not just making up the numbers
After undergoing multiple surgeries in the wake of the accident, Woods made a stunning comeback at last year's Masters - where he finished 47th. He later withdrew from the PGA Championship after 54 holes and missed the cut at the Open Championship at St Andrews.
The 47-year-old had been scheduled to compete at the unofficial Hero World Challenge in December. However he pulled out because of plantar fasciitis.
Speaking ahead of the Genesis Invitational, Woods said he wasn't just playing to make up the numbers. "I have not come around to the idea...If I am playing, I am playing to win," he said.
"I can't wrap my mind around that as a competitor. If I am playing the event I am going to try and beat you. I am playing to get the W.
"I don't understand that making the cut is a great thing. If I enter the event it is to win...There will come a point in time where my body won't allow me to do that anymore. And that is probably sooner, rather than later.
"Wrapping around my head around the transition and being an ambassador to just play and be out here with the guys...that is not in my DNA."
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