WASHINGTON — Tiger Woods made his return from a left Achilles tendon injury at the $2,15 million Tavistock Cup on Monday, joining Justin Rose in a nine-under par 63 four-ball pairing for Team Albany.
Eight days after withdrawing with tendon tightness from the final round of the World Golf Championships event at Doral, Woods teed off in the 36-hole challenge between rival clubs, open only to club members and invited guests.
Showing no apparent limp, Woods opened with back-to-back birdies, added two more before the turn, hit an approach at 10 to five feet before Rose birdied and pitched from a bunker within inches from the cup for a birdie at 11.
Woods and England’s Rose combined for 10 birdies with a lone bogey at the par-4 16th in the better-ball format of the exhibition event, which matches six-man teams of PGA players from Isleworth, Albany, Lake Nona and Queenwood.
Isleworth led after day one at 26-under with host Lake Nona second at 24-under, defending champion Albany third at 23-under and Queenwood fourth at 17-under.
Health fears abounded over Woods, a 14-time major champion chasing the all-time record 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus, when he walked off at Doral after hitting his tee shot on the 12th hole.
But Woods rested his leg and received medical treatment and said last week he would play in the Tavistock event, the US PGA Arnold Palmer Invitational that begins at Bay Hill tomorrow and at the Masters, which starts April 5.
Former World number one Woods has won six titles at Bay Hill in his career.
Last year, Achilles and knee injuries kept Woods sidelined for almost four months, keeping him from playing in the US and British Opens. Woods, ranked 18th in the world, has not won any tour-sanctioned event since the 2009 Australian Masters, just before the start of his infamous sex scandal and has not won a major crown since limping through a play-off to capture the 2008 US Open.
But Woods has been in solid recent form. He won the World Golf Challenge charity event he hosts last December, shared third at Abu Dhabi to open the 2012 season and shared second at the Honda Classic earlier this month after shooting a 62 on Sunday, the best final round of Woods’s career.
The US duo of Bo Van Pelt and Sean O’Hair fired 11 birdies and an eagle at the par-5 15th for the low round of any pairing at 13-under 59.
Four duos were next at nine-under including Woods and Rose, Americans Bubba Watson and Charles Howell for Isleworth and Lake Nona pairs Ben Curtis of the United States and Peter Hanson of Sweden and Ross Fisher of England and Retief Goosen of South Africa.— Supersport