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Impressive start by Tiger

Even though I had a little mishap at 10, I was able to fight back and get it going.

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Tiger Woods birdied his last three holes to wrestle a two-under-par 69 from Riviera Country Club on Thursday and thrill fans cheering his return to PGA Tour action at the Genesis Invitational.

The 15-time major champion hadn’t teed it up in a tour-level event since the British Open in July as the severe leg injuries he suffered in a February 2021 car accident continued to curtail his schedule.

Woods was greeted by cheers and chants of “Tiger! Tiger!” at the first tee, fans crowding for a glimpse as they would all around the classic course in Pacific Palisades west of downtown Los Angeles.

He opened with a birdie at the par-five first and after a bogey at the fourth he got back under par with a birdie at the eighth, where he landed his second shot from the fairway three feet from the pin.

Bogeys at the 10th and 12th put him one-over, but Woods turned things around — rolling in a five-foot birdie putt at the 16th and then curling in a 23-footer at the par-five 17th, where his approach had left him off the green.

He was in the fairway at 18, where his seven-foot birdie was greeted by massive cheers, Woods tipping his cap to the crowd after a round that left him five off the lead shared by former Genesis Invitational champion Max Homa and Keith Mitchell.

“I happened to actually hit some good shots finally and made a couple putts,” Woods said. “Even though I had a little mishap at 10, I was able to fight back and get it going. It was a nice finish.”
Woods said his comfort level increased as the round wore on.

“There’s nothing like come game time just the feeling of the butterflies and trying to calm all that stuff down,” he said.

Homa had eight birdies in his seven-under 64, including three in a row at his last three holes, the seventh eighth and ninth.

The American ranked 12th in the world won at Riviera in 2021 and has taken his tally of tour titles to six this season with a victory at the Fortinet Championship in September and at Torrey Pines in January.

Mitchell also had eight birdies and a bogey, closing with back-to-back birdies at 17 and 18 for his share of the lead.

They were one stroke in front of world number three Jon Rahm, who had eight birdies and two bogeys in his 65.

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