Tiger Woods off to 'good start' on PGA Tour return

Five-time winner opens with one-under effort in Memorial Tournament

Tiger Woods finished with a birdie in his first competitive round since February on the PGA Tour. Picture: Chris Trotman/Getty Images
Tiger Woods finished with a birdie in his first competitive round since February on the PGA Tour. Picture: Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Tiger Woods was happy with a "good start" as he made his first appearance since February on the PGA Tour.

The 15-time major winner was speaking after signing for a one-under-par 71 at Muirfield Village in the opening round of the Memorial Tournament.

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Woods, who has won this event five times, picked up two birdies in the first three holes in the company of Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka.

He then gave those shots back at the sixth and eighth before finishing with a birdie to come home in one-under.

The effort left Woods sitting in a tie for 18th, five shots behind the leader, fellow American Tony Finau.

"It felt good," said Woods, who last played in the Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles in February. "I was a little bit rusty, but felt like overall it was a good start.

"I just didn't make anything today. I had looks at birdies, but I really didn't make much.

"I was very pleased the way I drove it, my feel for my irons. I just didn't quite hit the putts hard enough. Most of my putts were dying, didn't quite have enough oomph to it."

Woods played in the afternoon and added: "I would like to have started with easier conditions. The wind was pumping and swirling all over the place."

It had been planned for this to be the first event since the PGA Tour's restart to have fans, but that was shelved due to the coronavirus showing no signs of abating in the US.

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"The energy wasn't the same without the fans. That certainly was noticeable," said Woods, who is normally followed the biggest galleries every time he plays.

"But I definitely didn't have any issue with energy and not having the fans' reactions out there.

"I still felt the same eagerness, edginess, nerviness starting out, and it was good. It was a good feel. I haven't felt this in a while."

Finau carded nine birdies, including two to finish, as he took a one-shot lead over compatriot Ryan Palmer, with US Open champion Gary Woodland and Brendan Steele both on four-under.

World No 1 McIlroy made four birdies as he signed for a two-under 70, one behind Spaniard Jon Rahm.

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