Tiger rues ‘awful’ short game

The 38-year-old duffed four routine chips as he laboured to a five-over 77 on the first day of the Hero World Challenge ??? his first competitive round since missing the cut at the PGA Championship in August.

Woods was forced to take an extended break after initially returning to action too soon following surgery on a pinched nerve in his back in March.

He was reasonably satisfied with the state of his long game despite pulling his opening drive out-of-bounds, but his woeful pitching contributed to four bogeys and one double bogey.

???I didn’t feel like I hit it that bad, but my short game was awful, and I didn’t make anything,” he told the PGA Tour website. “It was just one of those days where nothing went my way.

“I hit a lot of good shots and I got nothing out of it, obviously. Bad chips, bad putts and a couple of missed shots on the front nine on the wrong side really compounded the problem.

“I hit terrible chips – that’s something I need to work on when I get home. It certainly is surprising that I could hit chips that poorly.???

Woods, who sits last in the elite 18-player field at his home club of Isleworth in Florida, failed to hit the green twice with short chips at the 13th while also enduring similar problems at the eighth and 17th.

“I just flubbed them,” he added. “I felt comfortable on a lot of the chip shots this week as I was playing practice rounds off the tighter spots. But when it got a little grainier, it just wasn’t as good as I needed it to be.”

His playing partner, Jason Day, added: ???That???s just giving away shots there. It???s just painful because you???re watching a guy with 14 majors. For him to be doing stuff like that, there???s a lot of rust there.

???Obviously there???s no pressure in practice rounds, but he was flushing it. Chipping well, putting well. Today he just kind of struggled around the greens.???

In contrast to Woods, Australian Open winner Jordan Spieth defied the effects of jetlag to fire a six-under 66 which earned him a one-shot lead over defending champion Zach Johnson, Steve Stricker, Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson.

“Right now, I’m 11 back and possibly, probably more than that the way Jordan is playing,” Woods said.

“I’ve got three more days, and if I can get to under par for the tournament after tomorrow and then hopefully put together a really good weekend, (I’ll try to) at least get myself back in there somehow.”