The eyes of the golf world were clearly focused on Albany Resort in The Bahamas Thursday as Tiger Woods made his much anticipated return to competitive golf after a 10-month absence. Here’s what transpired during the first round action:
Tommy Fleetwood, the world’s most underrated golfer and winner of the European Tour’s Race To Dubai, came up with four back-nine birdies on his way to a bogey-free, six-under par 66 to take the first-day lead. Fleetwood will be sticking around after things wrap up on Sunday. He and fiancée Clare Craig will be married at Albany on Tuesday. Then they’ll head back to the U.K. for their honeymoon. That’s a reversal from what most would do — get married in the weather-challenged U.K. then honeymoon in the warm, sunny, Bahamas. Either way, Tommy’s got a lot of celebrating to do and perhaps he has his eye on the $1 million first place money here, keeping in tune with the saying that “you can always use an extra million.”
Ricky Fowler got off to a smoking-hot start with three straight birdies. He made five on the front nine and ended up with a five-under par 67 that tied him for second place with Matt Kuchar.
Big names are in at 68 including the world’s No. 1 and No. 2 players — Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth. They made it look relatively easy during the first round.
Hottest player on the planet joined them with his own 68. This is a home game for Justin Rose, who makes his home at Albany. He was runnerup to Fleetwood in the Race To Dubai.
Kevin Chappell had a crazy scorecard that included an eagle two at the short 14th. He made it a foursome at 68.
Of course the question of the day: What Did Tiger Shoot? Woods looked very solid all day. Despite the fact he’s hitting the ball really long, he had trouble on the par five holes and played them in one-over. Still, he made five birdies and was able to break 70. He’s one of four players at 69 and his playing partner — Justin Thomas — was in that group with Woods.
Defending champion Hideki Matsuyama came up with the rally of the day. Matsuyama was three-over through 12 holes but went on a run and birdied four straight starting at the 14th to finish one-under.
Worst performance of the day went to Daniel Berger. He had one of the great shots of the day when he used his putter from off the green at the par four seventh and drained it from 150 feet for eagle two. He turned two-under but his day was ruined by a quadruple-bogey nine at the par five 11th. He was dead-last in the field after shooting 75.