December 1, 2016 - 4:33pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Tiger Woods
USA Today Sports Images
In case you missed the first competitive round of Tiger Woods in 15 months, here's how he fared in Round 1 of the Hero World Challenge on Thursday.

The return of Tiger Woods to competitive golf for the first time in 15 months -- 467 days to be exact -- got off to an amazing start on Thursday... then ended with ripples in the water to the left of the 18th fairway after another pulled drive.

Woods, playing in his event -- the Hero World Challenge -- at Albany in the Bahamas, was 4-under par through eight holes. With a bogey on No. 9, he made the turn in a promising 3-under 33.

The back nine was a different story.

Woods limped in with a 4-over 40 -- including double bogeys at Nos. 16 and 18 -- to finish the first round with a 1-over-par 73.

RELATED: Holmes takes early Hero Challenge lead | Tiger's first birdie | Leaderboard

When his round ended, Woods trailed leader J.B. Holmes by nine shots (8-under 64) and was ahead of only Justin Rose, who shot 2-over 74, in the 18-man field.

"If you think about it, I hit the ball in three bushes and had a water ball today," Woods told Golf Channel's Damon Hack. "It could have been something really good today. I got off to a nice solid start and made a few mistakes there. I didn't play the par 5s very well in the middle part of the round, and consequently I got it going the wrong way."

Woods snagged his first birdie of the day at the par-5 third hole -- which also presented the first big test of the day. When we last saw Woods in 2015, he had been struggling mightily with chip shots and pitch shots around the greens.

Not on Thursday, however. Check out this pitch from behind the third green that set up a tap-in birdie:

 

 

Woods did struggle with a delicate chip at the ninth hole -- ultimately costing him a bogey -- but that had more to do with strategy than mechanics.

 

 

One hole earlier on the par-3 eighth, Woods had a momentary share of the lead at 4 under after his third consecutive birdie thanks to this stellar tee shot:

 

 

On the back nine, it was what Woods always talks about in these returns that did him in -- a lack of reps. Loose swings and fighting a case of the pulls off the tee really hurt Woods over the final nine holes -- particularly at the end as he double-bogeyed two of his last three.

"I let a good round slip away at the end," said the 79-time PGA Tour winner and 14-time major champion.

Even though Woods couldn't maintain the scorching-hot start, his return to golf made Thursday's round arguably the most anticipated day of golf in the history of the month of December.

Golf Channel and Golfweek each utilized a live Tiger Tracker blog, while fans, celebrities and fellow players chimed in throughout the day on Twitter.

Here's a sampling:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All in all, it was a great day for golf (and golf Twitter).
 

How Tiger fared on Thursday
December 1, 2016 - 1:59pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Jordan Spieth
@PGATOUR on Twitter
Jordan Spieth showed some magical touch at Albany on Thursday with this pitch-in for eagle on the ninth hole during the first round of the Hero World Challenge.

Though all the talk has been around Tiger Woods this week at the Hero World Challenge -- and rightfully so seeing as it's his event and he hasn't played in 15 months -- let us not forget that it's also a pretty darned loaded field.

Jordan Spieth reminded us of that on Thursday in the first round.

Fresh off a victory in the Australian Open, Spieth is hoping for a repeat of what he did in 2014 -- back up the win in Oz with a win in the Hero World Challenge.

RELATED: Tiger Woods uses magical touch for first birdie | Hero leaderboard

Shots like this pitch for eagle on No. 9 certainly aren't going to hurt:

Spieth was 1 over before that hole and quickly moved to 1 under.

What a shot.
 

Jordan Spieth pitches in for unlikely eagle
December 1, 2016 - 12:48pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Tiger Woods
@PGATOUR
Tiger Woods birdied his third hole of the day on Thursday in the first round of the Hero World Challenge after hitting a gorgeous pitch shot to within inches of the cup.

Tiger Woods is playing golf in competition today for the first time in 15 months.

After routine pars at the first two holes in the Hero World Challenge (click here for leaderboard), Woods made his first birdie of the day at the par-5 third hole, thanks to this magnificent chip shot from behind the green that set up the short birdie putt:

That sure is a far cry from the chipping yips Tiger was experiencing last time we saw him. Remember these?

Maybe we shouldn't get all that excited just yet, but, ah whatever...

That birdie got Tiger to 1 under and -- at the time (VERY early on in the tournament) -- just one shot off the lead.

Tiger Woods shows some early chipping magic at Hero World Challenge
December 1, 2016 - 11:58am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
animal encounters
Twitter
Part of playing golf means you're going to run into some wildlife out on the course occasionally. Here are nine of our favorite animal encounters in 2016.

Getting out on the golf course for four hours. Ahhh. There's nothing better, am I right?

The perfectly manicured fairways and greens, the smell of freshly cut grass, the trees, the serenity, the... OH MY GOSH! LOOK OUT! IT'S A GATOR!

Wait, what? Yes. Along with all the beauty that comes with lovely golf courses, there are those moments out there where you're going to inevitably run into some wildlife. Maybe it's a coyote, a fox, a gator, who knows?

RELATED: Rule for when animals obstruct your golf shot

What we do know is that these are nine of the best animal encounters on the golf course in 2016...

9. Gators fight on course in Tampa Bay area. Back in March, two alligators at the municipal Bobby Jones Golf Club in Sarasota, Fla., unleashed their fury on one another. One brave golfer, Barbara Mossop, figured it was worth capturing on video.

We can only assume that Gator 1 was infuriated after missing a short putt he felt Gator 2 should have conceded. We get it.

8. 20 Mongoose run onto the green at European Tour's Nedbank Golf Challenge on the Race to Dubai. I don't know about you, but when I flip on the Golf Channel and see a tournament being played in South Africa, I'm almost more excited about the exotic animals that might appear on the screen than I am about the golf. Like this from November.

7. The capybaras at the Olympic Golf Course in Rio. Remember those mini monsters? They looked like part dog/part beaver/part PLEASE STAY AWAY FROM ME. They were everywhere on the course. It was wild.

6. Komodo Dragon at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia in October. One of the images that pops up when you look up a Komodo Dragon on Wikipedia is that of the giant lizard feeding on "a water buffalo carcass." Yep. You can get directly off my golf course, Komodo Dragon!

5. Bear cubs play with flag stick in Canada. Bear cubs are so cute... until you remember that when you see them, it means Mama Bear isn't far behind. Based on this video, it looks like Mama Bear isn't a fan of slow play either, prompting her cubs to move along and get off the green. This happened in September at Waterton Lakes Golf Course in southern Alberta.

4. Spider monkeys in Mayakoba at the OHL Classic in November. Love this video. Just spider monkey who is clearly a big golf fan, trying to get a great vantage point of the action in Mexico.

 

Come at me, bro.

A video posted by PGA TOUR (@pgatour) on

3. A cobra on the course in Taiwan. If I came across a cobra on a golf course, I'd be out of there faster than you could say, "Pro V1" -- I certainly wouldn't be throwing one at it.

2. Baboons. At the same event that brought us mongoose earlier in this list, we also got to see some baboons.

1. A python at the HSBC-Champions in China. Not a huge snake guy here. I can admit it. Luckily for the players in the field, this freak was removed from the course.

Bonus...

And let us not forget that snake that scared the bejesus out of Smylie Kaufman during a pro-am in Las Vegas recently... you know, even if it was fake.

Top 9 animal encounters on the golf course in 2016
December 1, 2016 - 10:18am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Jarrod Lyle
@GolfChannel on Twitter
During the first round of the Australian PGA on Thursday, Jarrod Lyle aced the par-3 fifth hole.

It's the season of giving and if you're a golf fan in the U.S., you've no doubt been happy to receive a healthy dose of late-night golf from beautiful Australia on television these last few weeks.

This week, the Australian PGA Championship is being contested at RACV Royal Pines Resort in Gold Coast, Queensland.

That's where, during Thursday's first round, Jarrod Lyle aced the par-3 fifth hole.

Check it out:

Lyle, a two-time winner in separate bouts against acute myeloid leukemia, is no stranger to making holes in one in competition. He also snagged one in 2011 during the Waste Management Open at the wildly popular, par-3 16th at TPC Scottsdale:

 

Jarrod Lyle scores ace in first round of Australian PGA
November 30, 2016 - 5:37pm
Daniel.McDonald's picture