- Associated Press - Thursday, December 1, 2016

NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) - Not only did Tiger Woods return to golf Thursday, he returned to being Tiger.

Just not for long.

Hardly looking like a player who had not competed in 466 days, Woods ran off three straight birdies with a variety of shots and was tied for the lead in the Hero World Challenge as he approached the turn.

Three shots in the bushes, one shot in the water and a few fits of anger sent him toward the bottom of the pack. A pair of double bogeys over the final three holes ruined an otherwise impressive return, and Woods shot 40 on the back nine at Albany Golf Club and had to settle for a 1-over 73.

He was in 17th place in the 18-man field. Only Justin Rose had a higher score.

Even so, Woods has reason to be encouraged. After taking off 15 months to recover from two back surgeries, he felt no pain or limitations. His misses were not big, just costly. And he was playing again.

He was nine shots behind J.B. Holmes, who opened with an 8-under 64 and had a one-shot lead over Hideki Matsuyama, with U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson at 66.

Woods is coming off the longest hiatus of his golfing life. Plagued by back problems since 2013 when he was No. 1 in the world, he finally shut it down after tying for 10th in the Wyndham Championship on Aug. 23, 2015, and then going through two back surgeries.


GOLD COAST, Australia (AP) - Australians Andrew Dodt, Harold Varner and Ashley Hall shared the Australian PGA Championship lead Friday at 7-under 64 after the rain-delayed first round.

Dodt finished Thursday before lightning and a storm forced organizers to postpone play until Friday morning. Play resumed at 5:30 a.m., and Varner completed the round with birdies on his last two holes. Hall birdied four of his last seven.

Australian star Adam Scott opened with a 69.


MALELANE, South Africa (AP) - Defending champion Charl Schwartzel birdied the last hole for a share of the first-round lead in the European Tour’s Alfred Dunhill Championship.

The South African star tapped in on No. 18 to match Ireland’s Paul Dunne at 6-under 66 at Leopard Creek Country Club. Schwartzel has won the event three of the last four years and four times overall/

Dunne rebounded from a double-bogey 6 on No. 9.

Brandon Stone, Max Orrin, Scott Jamieson, Jean Hugo, Pablo Larrazabal and Alexander Bjork shot 67.


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Japanese teen Nasa Hataoka and two-time European Solheim Cup player Mel Reid shared the second-round lead in the LPGA Tour qualifying tournament.

The 17-year-old Hataoka had a 7-under 65 on LPGA International’s Hills Course to match Reid at 11-under 133. Reid had an 8-under 64 on the Jones Course.

The top 20 on Sunday will earn full cards and the next 25 and ties will get conditional status.

Jaye Marie Green was third at 8 under after a 68 on the Hills Course. She won the 2013 tournament at a record 29 under. Latvia’s Krista Puisite (69) and South Carolina senior Katelyn Dambaugh (71) were 6 under. They also played the Hills Course.


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) - Scott Parel shot a 3-under 69 to take the third-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions’ qualifying tournament.

The top five finishers Friday will be fully exempt and Nos. 6-30 and ties will get associate membership and will have access to event qualifying while bypassing pre-qualifying.

Parel had a 10-under 206 total on Disney’s Magnolia Course. Skip Kendall (70) and Wales’ Phillip Price (68) were a stroke back. Gene Jones (68) was another shot behind, and Brian Henninger (65) was 7 under.

Second-round leader Jim Carter had a 75 to drop into a tie for 10th at 5 under.

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