Woods toils as Spieth leads

The 38-year-old has been on the sidelines since failing to make the cut at the PGA Championship in August, having struggled to get back into shape following surgery on a pinched nerve in his back earlier in the year.

The 14-time major winner decided to make his comeback in the tournament he annually hosts and which benefits his foundation.

However, he struggled badly and ended the opening day in last place in the elite 18-man field, four shots adrift of American duo Billy Horschel and Patrick Reed who are tied for 16th place on one over and 11 behind the early pacesetter Jordan Spieth.

Woods bogeyed the first hole after driving out of bounds to the left and then missed a 15-foot par putt at the par-three second.

He dropped another shot at the seventh after taking two shots to escape a fairway bunker before racking up a double-bogey at the par-four eighth – striking a tree with his second shot after a wayward drive to the left – to turn in 41.

The former world No 1 improved on the back nine with his only birdie arriving at the 12th but he immediately dropped another shot before closing his round with six successive pars.

“It was just one of those days where nothing goes your way,” Woods said. “I feel like I didn’t hit it that poorly.

“But I have zero pain and I haven’t said that in a long time. It’s nice to be able to launch it again.”

Woods, who botched four chip shots, added:??”My short game was awful. I didn’t make anything. It certainly is surprising I could hit chips that poorly. I flubbed them. I hit some terrible chips.”

Spieth, fresh from his Australian Open victory, enjoyed a superb round with a birdie at the first followed by a run of five straight birdies from the sixth.

The 21-year-old carded his only bogey on the 11th but he recovered with a birdie on the 13th before parring his way into the clubhouse.

Spieth sank a 20-foot par putt at the 18th to remain one shot clear of his fellow Americans Zach Johnson, Steve Stricker and Rickie Fowler and Sweden???s Henrik Stenson.

“It would have been tough to finish with bogey,” said Spieth, who won a college event at Isleworth. “It was nice to close that one out.”

Northern Ireland???s Graeme McDowell is tied for sixth place on four under, but Englishman Justin Rose could only manage a level-par 72. ????

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