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Tiger Woods endures rocky finish in first start since Masters

<i>Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images</i><br/>Tiger Woods of the United States plays his shot from the fourth tee during the first round of the Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Course on November 30 in Nassau
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Tiger Woods of the United States plays his shot from the fourth tee during the first round of the Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Course on November 30 in Nassau

By Homero De la Fuente, CNN

(CNN) — Tiger Woods returned to competitive golf on Thursday at the Hero World Challenge in Albany, the Bahamas.

Playing in his first tournament since withdrawing from the Masters in April, the 15-time major champion had an up-and-down first round, finishing with four birdies, five bogeys and a double bogey.

Woods opened the first nine holes at even-par and found himself at one-under-par after the 14th before closing out the final four holes with two bogeys, a double bogey and par.

“I was rusty, I didn’t have my feels,” Woods told the Golf Channel broadcast after the round. “Conditions were tough early. I kind of hung through there and I did not finish off my round the way I needed to and consequently it kind of went sideways at the end.”

The 47-year-old finished at three-over 75 and in 18th place of the 20-man field. Meanwhile, 2023 Open champion Brian Harman and Tony Finau sit in a tie for first place after a five-under 67 first round at Albany Golf Club.

“I’m a little bit sore, that’s for sure,” Woods said after the round. “We got some stuff to do tonight to get ready for tomorrow and then we get back in the gym and get right after it tomorrow and hopefully pull some better numbers.”

Woods underwent ankle surgery in April after enduring “constant” pain across his three rounds at Augusta National during the Masters in April.

On Tuesday, Woods told reporters his goal for next year is to play once per month.

“I think the best scenario would be maybe a tournament a month,” Woods said. “I think that’s realistic, whether that’s – you would have to start with maybe at Genesis (the Genesis Invitational in February) and something in March, near the Players (Championship).

“Again, we have set up right now the biggest events are one per month. It sets itself up for that. Now, I need to get myself ready for all that. I think this week is a big step in that direction.”

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