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.
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.
Here's a sampling:
All in all, it was a great day for golf (and golf Twitter).