Golf: Woods makes welcome return

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The Independent Online
Tiger Woods announced his return to the PGA Tour on Thursday with a six-under-par 64, one stroke off Jim Furyk's lead in the GTE Byron Nelson Classic.

Woods, playing his first competitive round since his US Masters victory a month ago, was welcomed to the first tee at the TPC with a huge ovation.

"I was pretty nervous out there," Woods said. "I had the jitterbugs. It was nice to feel that again. I just wanted to shoot something under par."

Woods played to the record crowd by rolling in a putt to birdie his first hole back on tour and added consecutive birdies on the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth holes to finish the front nine on a five-under-par 30. "I just wanted to get off to a good start," he said. "And obviously I did."

Woods made consecutive bogeys the 11th and 12th holes when he had bunker trouble, but ended with a birdie at the last to share second place with Dudley Hart and Paul Stankowski.

"I had a lot more feel than I thought I would today," Woods said. "I think that shows that my swing is in a better spot than it has been."

His return ended a stretch of rest and relaxation since he won the US Masters in Augusta by a record 12 strokes. He then missed four consecutive Tour events, but now will probably play three weeks in a row and then miss a week as he prepares for his next major challenge: the US Open outside Washington DC in June.