Tiger Woods live updates: Hero World Challenge complete coverage, analysis

Tiger Woods plays a shot during the pro-am as a preview for the Hero World Challenge

Tiger Woods is making his first start since April this week.

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Tiger Woods is playing his first golf tournament since the Masters — and the first since his April subtalar fusion surgery. Yep, Tiger’s back. We’re covering this week’s Hero World Challenge accordingly, and to help keep you in the know on all things Tiger, we’re aggregating all our reporting and updates below. Check back often!


Another familiar pairing

Sean Zak: To see Tiger Woods — the tournament “committee of one” as he likes to joke — choose Justin Thomas as his playing partner for Thursday’s opening round was unsurprising. Woods seems as close with Thomas as he is with any top-level pro. But when their scorecards moved in different directions Thursday, they ruined the chance of an encore Friday since the Hero World Challenge updates pairings after every round.

Instead, Woods will find himself playing alongside another of the Jupiter, Fl. faithful: Rickie Fowler. Recall that it was not just Thomas but Fowler as well who Woods cited as motivating factor during his comeback to the sport in 2017 and 2018. Thomas and Fowler routinely pressured Woods into backyard chipping sessions and practice rounds at Medalist. Both also starred on the winning 2017 Presidents Cup team, which was the first time we really heard that Woods was beginning to chart out his return. Fowler then went on to win the Hero World Challenge that December.

Fowler (+2) and Woods (+3) will tee off at Albany at 11:02 a.m. ET Friday.


One round down

Alan Bastable: Tiger Woods said he was rusty heading into his first competitive round in seven months. He was right.

When he wrapped his round at Albany just before 4 p.m. ET, Woods had made 4 birdies, 7 pars, 5 bogeys and 1 double-bogey on his way to a three-over 75 leaving him eight back of first-round co-leaders Brian Harman and Tony Finau.   

Woods hit 6 of 13 fairways and 10 greens in regulation.

Asked afterward by Golf Channel’s what he got out of his round, Woods quipped, “I got a lot of shots.”

Woods said he struggled with a lack of commitment over shots, especially toward the middle of his round when the wind was whipping. He also cited a “lack of feels,” which is to be expected after such a long layoff. As for his physical state, Woods said only that he was “a little bit sore.”

He’s baaaaaack…

James Colgan: It’s been a rough morning for the (nonexistent) Tiger Woods haters. In his first tournament action in seven months on Thursday at the Hero World Challenge, Woods’ game has looked impressively sharp.

There have been a few high points thus far. There was the bombed drive on No. 1 (326 yards, the longest of the day), the mega-birdie-make on No. 5 (a 30-footer!), and, of course, a few towering iron shots into his first few greens. But more than any one moment or swing, the most impressive part of today has been watching Woods’ body in action again. His swing looks more fluid and athletic than it has at any point since the car accident in early 2021, and his gait looks slightly less tenuous. Yeah, he’s still gimpy and his swing is still top-heavy, but considering the circumstances, this is about as well as we could’ve hoped him to look.

Oh, and he’s managing an even-par score heading to the turn. Not bad considering the uncertainty around his game.

Tiger inspiring his peers in new way

Alan Bastable: It’s still stunning that the future of the PGA Tour was decided without input from the guy most responsible for the Tour’s present-day success. But here we are and now there Woods is — in his new role of Tour policy board member — attending meetings, taking calls and pecking away at his keyboard to make sure that, effective immediately, the Tour gets things right.

“Lot of time on the phone, emails, Zoom calls, phone calls, whatever it may be,” Justin Thomas said of Woods earlier this week. “He doesn’t take it lightly. Obviously, he’s spoken to it, but it was an honor for him to kind of get the torch passed to him from Arnold and Jack. So I think he’s looking at it as he wants to kind of pass that to whatever the following generation is.”

Thomas called Woods’ jump to action “inspiring,” which is a common sentiment on Tour. Woods has never starved for admiration from his peers, but now he’s earning it less so with his play and more so with his politicking. 

What else are Woods’ peers saying about his new post? Read more HERE

What time does Tiger tee off?

Kevin Cunningham: At 11:52 a.m. ET on Thursday, it will finally happen: Woods will hit his first shot in competition since withdrawing from the Masters due to injury. Woods had a lot on his mind during his pre-tournament press conference, but now attention turns toward the course.

Tiger will play the first round alongside Justin Thomas, and you’ll be able to watch much of their round on TV.

Golf Channel will carry TV coverage for Thursday’s round at the Hero World Challenge beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET. Golf Channel will also show Tiger’s first tee shot just before noon. In addition, Peacock will provide a live simulcast of Golf Channel’s coverage.


Where’d Tiger go?

Dylan Dethier: I walked the first four holes with Woods on Wednesday morning and then stopped off with another group, figuring I’d catch up with Team Tiger on the back nine. Surprise — he only played nine holes!

His group, which included Hero CEO Dr. Pawan Munjal stopped at the turn. The word on the ground is that Dr. Munjal isn’t crazy about the length of an 18-hole round, anyway, so I think the group may have been just as happy with a lunch with Tiger rather than trekking the back nine. And Woods’ caddie-slash-manager Rob McNamara said that Woods playing nine holes had been part of the morning’s plan. But it’s a reminder that, despite his optimism going into the week, Woods’ health status remains a huge unknown.

Those four holes were rock-solid, for whatever that’s worth. Which isn’t much.

Tiger’s Pro-Am appearance cut short…

Woods played 9 holes Wednesday morning in the pro-am before repairing to the clubhouse for lunch. The pro-am is an 18-hole affair but Woods reportedly shortened his round to save himself for the main event. According to Golf Channel’s Todd Lewis, “It was a decision he made prior to play in an effort to save himself for the tournament. According to his camp there are no physical issues.” By all accounts, Woods was moving well, albeit with a slight limp, and swinging well, too.


Tiger’s making 3 gear changes…

Jonathan Wall: But one is tough to spot.

Tiger has some new toys in the golf bag this week that are impossible to miss. Two weeks after Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood debuted TaylorMade’s Qi10 LS driver in Dubai, Woods became the latest staffer to vet the Qi10 LS driver in competition.

There’s also the return of the lead tape…

What else is Woods tweaking in his bag? Read more HERE.

How did Tiger’s press conference look up close?

Dylan Dethier: On the ground in the Bahamas, there was an element of deja vu to the proceedings. After all, this week on the golf calendar has become known as the week Tiger Woods stages his comebacks.

Some comebacks have worked. Others haven’t. But the man and the setting felt remarkably familiar; a reminder of how much has stayed the same.

That made it even easier to notice what’s changed.

What’s different this time? Read that HERE.

Tiger seems focused on his new role…

James Colgan: …as PGA Tour spokesman.

When he arrived at the lectern for his opening salvo from the Hero World Challenge — a frequent spot of Woods comebacks over the years — it was telling that his focus appeared to be on his new gig. For the first time in at least a decade, the most interesting thing about Tiger Woods was not his golf game nor his return to major championship contention but rather his newly-anointed position.

“We have to protect the integrity of our Tour and what that stands for going forward,” he said poignantly. “Trying to figure all that out in the past few months has been a very difficult task, but we have to protect what the Tour is for the players.”

More on Woods and his new job HERE.

Tiger puts PGA Tour leadership on notice

Sean Zak: Woods is now one of six players on the PGA Tour’s all-important Policy Board. He never once held that position during the peak of his playing days, but he does now, thanks to a late-summer quasi coup during which 41 pros demanded Woods be granted a place on the board.

Why did that happen? Woods is never keen to dive into detail, but for a man who doesn’t say much, it’s often telling when he repeats himself. Tuesday’s phrase of the day was just three telling words: Can’t happen again. As in, what happened in the weeks leading up to maybe the most pivotal decision in PGA Tour history — the Tour’s framework agreement with the Saudi Public Investment Fund, which was made without Tour players’ knowledge — can’t…happen…again.

Read Woods’ entire message to PGA Tour leadership HERE.

How’s Tiger’s walk?

Jack Hirsh: Before he withdrew, the last scenes of Woods at the 2023 Masters weren’t pretty. One of the greatest athletes of his generation, if not of all time, could barely walk.

Nearly eight months and at least one surgery later, Woods says walking 72 holes over four consecutive days — which he has done only twice since the 2020 Masters — isn’t a worry anymore.

“I’m not concerned at all about walking it,” Woods said, echoing what he told the Associated Press earlier this month. “It’s more, as I said, I don’t have any of the ankle pain that I had with the hardware that’s been placed in my foot, that’s all gone.”

Read more about Woods’ expectations for his health HERE.

Where will Tiger play in 2024?

Josh Berhow: At Tuesday’s press conference, Woods laid out his best-case scenario for a 2024 playing schedule. His plan is surprisingly aggressive, but one golf fans no doubt will love to hear.

“I think that best scenario would be maybe a tournament a month,” Woods said. “I think that’s realistic.”

Woods added that he’d probably have to start with the Genesis (his event, held in February at Riviera) and then something in March “near the Players.”

“Again, we have set up right now the biggest events are one per month,” he said, referring to the Tour’s eight Signature Events throughout the season. “It sets itself up for that. Now, I need to get myself ready for all that. I think this week is a big step in that direction.”

You can read more about Woods’ ambitious plans HERE.

Who’s Tiger’s caddie?

Jessica Marksbury: Tiger Woods and Joe LaCava spent 12 years together, but officially parted ways earlier this year as Woods focused on recovering from his latest surgery. After serving as a fill-in caddie for Steve Stricker, LaCava sought Woods’ blessing to start working with Patrick Cantlay full-time.

With Woods making his first competitive start since the Masters at this week’s Hero World Challenge, there was much hypothesizing about who he would have on the bag. And it didn’t take long for the topic to come up in Woods’ pre-tournament press conference. The answer isn’t a big surprirse, with Woods tapping longtime friend and confidante Rob McNamara.

Full story on McNamara’s appointment HERE.

Tiger’s betting odds

Josh Sens: What are Woods’ chances in the Hero World Challenge, at Albany, in the Bahamas? Las Vegas doesn’t like them. As of this writing, Woods is dead last on the betting board, at 40-1.

Woods is the GOAT. He’s also only human. We’re fading his chances this week but have thrown a couple darts elsewhere on the board. You can find my picks HERE.

Tiger’s tee time

Kevin Cunningham: It’s no surprise to see Woods paired with good friend Justin Thomas for the first round of the Hero. They’ll go off at 11:52 a.m. on Thursday, the seventh tee time of 10 on the day. Here are the others:

10:46 a.m. – Brian Harman, Lucas Glover
10:57 a.m. – Cameron Young, Sepp Straka
11:08 a.m. – Tony Finau, Wyndham Clark
11:19 a.m. – Keegan Bradley, Rickie Fowler
11:30 a.m. – Matt Fitzpatrick, Justin Rose
11:41 a.m. – Sam Burns, Scottie Scheffler
11:52 a.m. – Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas
12:03 p.m. – Jason Day, Collin Morikawa
12:14 p.m. – Will Zalatoris, Jordan Spieth
12:25 p.m. – Max Homa, Viktor Hovland

Find out more about where and how to watch HERE.

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