Mac shines as Rory and Tiger prove hit and miss

Mac shines as Rory and Tiger prove hit and miss

But in 11 prior appearances he has never won here, and he hadn't teed it up on the classic course west of downtown Los Angeles since 2006.

Baddeley holed out with a wedge from off the green to ice a trio of birdies in his last three holes and a four-under-par 67, leaving the Australian four shots behind leader Bubba Watson.

Justin Thomas, No. 4, made five birdies but almost offset those with three bogeys on his way to a 69.

The venue is the closest on the PGA Tour to Woods' palatial residence and it also signals the well-being of the 14-time Major victor is back on track following spine fusion surgery to tackle competing full-time.

Woods, playing Riviera for the first time since 2006 as he continues his comeback in the wake of spinal fusion surgery last April, started the day one-over, and picked up his first birdie of the day at the third hole, rolling in an 18-footer to a roar of approval from a big gallery. "But I'm really happy with what I'm doing, I'm really happy with the progress I'm making".

"That's just the way it goes.this golf course is just playing very hard, and when I made the birdies, I made a mistake and wasn't able to salvage pars and get the momentum going that way".

Without a victory since 2015, he has plummeted to 219th in the world and started the season with three straight missed cuts.

Woods has no such weekend excitement to look forward to.

This result follows a T-23 finish at Torrey Pines three weeks ago.

For example, he missed the green on seven of the eight par-3s.

"I need some tournament rounds", Woods said.

Then, he lost his tee shot to the right, hit out of a greenside bunker past the flag and onto the fringe, and had to work for bogey.

"You get used to it", the reigning tour Player of the Year, who hopped aboard Woods' private plane for the trip to Riviera, said after Thursday's opener.

"I think that's why I have so much respect for what he did and admire his career so much, because I didn't get to see my grandfather's firsthand like I got to see Tiger's growing up watching TV", Saunders said.

"It's tiring", McIlroy said.

"All I'm missing is a couple of low numbers and that little bit of confidence". He's still figuring a few things out with equipment, I think, sort of in between drivers and whatever, but he's close.

Among the most talked about, keenly watched golfers of successive generations, even McIlroy was put in the shadow as a 42-year-old Woods continued his competitive return to the sport.

He will be back soon though, as he will be playing in the Honda Classic at PGA National in Florida next week.



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