Published: Sat, March 10, 2018
Sports | By Phillip Butler

Tiger Woods watch: Midway through Friday at Valspar, one back of leaders

Tiger Woods watch: Midway through Friday at Valspar, one back of leaders

The four-time PGA Championship victor was sidelined for the latter part of 2017 having undergone back surgery but has carefully managed his return to action.

Woods would falter with a final-round 70, finishing four strokes behind victor Davis Love III, and less than a month later would have the first of two back operations that would keep him away from competitive golf, with a couple of exceptions, until January of this year. The whole group got fooled a lot today, a tough day all around. "Into the wind it just felt like you hit walls". "... Can't believe it nearly went in".

Woods appeared to be wincing in pain as he walked up the fairway but chipped close to save par and then produced the shot of the day on the par-three 17th to set up a tap-in birdie. Woods started his day on the back nine with two successful birdies but followed them up with a pair of bogeys to bring him back even. His flop shots and chips have repeatedly saved him from bogey.

Woods, 42, returned to the gym to build up his fitness after his last tournament two weeks ago.

After his drive bounced on a cart path and clattered deep into the trees, coming to rest on leaves and pine straw, Woods was concerned his club would snap against a nearby pine on his follow-through.

'I've got a chance going into the weekend, ' said Woods, who has only just returned following a near year-long absence following his latest bout of back surgery.

Watney holed a bunker shot on the par-4 16th, made the turn and had an eagle on the first hole. He then almost aced the par-3 17th before making an easy birdie to get back to red numbers.

"It was hard again, and when we started it was cold", Woods said. "... I liked it right away".

The last time that happened was during the third round of the Wyndham Championship in August 2015 and the last time Woods led outright after a PGA Tour round was after his last win in the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone.

There is no way anybody could have predicted Whee Kim to be tied for second place after the first round of the Valspar Championship.

Scott's best finish in three starts on the Tour in 2018 has been a tie for 13th at the Honda Classic. He will play next week's Arnold Palmer Invitational, an event he has won eight times.

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