The Associated Press NASSAU (AP) — Tiger Woods fell behind early and never recovered. Charley Hoffman pulled away late and made himself hard to beat.
Hoffman handled the blustery conditions Saturday in the Hero World Challenge for a 2-under 70, one of only five rounds under par, and built a five-shot lead going into the final round at Albany Golf Club.
Woods went 11 consecutive holes without hitting a green in regulation. He went 14 holes until making his first birdie. He had to settle for a 75, leaving him 10 shots out of the lead and finding consolation in the way he feels and the way he fought to keep it from getting worse.
“It’s nice to be part of the fight again,” Woods said. “Fighting against the golf course, fighting against the guys, that’s fun. I just haven’t done it a whole lot in the last few years.”
The strong wind took the air out of any hopes that Woods, playing for the first time in 10 months following a fourth back surgery, might even get into contention in his celebrated return. He opened with rounds of 69-68. Those two rounds were enough for his odds of winning the Masters to plunge to 15-1, the same as Rickie Fowler and Jon Rahm. And then a warm afternoon brought a cold dash of reality.
Woods opened with four bogeys in seven holes. He played four par 5s without having a birdie putt on any of them. And when he finally made a birdie, Woods removed his cap to acknowledge the crowd and held up a finger to indicate his first birdie.
“It’s ridiculous it took me 14 holes to make a birdie,” Woods said. “At that time, I’d already played four par 5s and nothing happened. Just one of those days. Anything I did right ended up in a bad spot, and then everything I did wrong, it was really bad.”
Smith wins Australian PGA
GOLD COAST, Australia (AP) — Cameron Smith won the Australian PGA Championship on Sunday with a par on the second hole of a playoff with fellow Australian Jordan Zunic.
Both players were off the 18th green for their third shots, but Smith put his within 4 feet and made the putt after Zunic missed from about 12 feet.
“I wasn’t really expecting much out of that chip shot on the playoff hole, I just wanted to get it basically inside Jordan’s and ended up hitting a really good shot,” Smith said. “I had my chance on the 72nd and just misread the putt. Nice to get it done.”
Earlier, Smith had to overcome a heckler in the gallery who was later ejected for fake coughs and sneezes while Smith was hitting his approach to the 18th in regulation.
“He just said a few nasty things ... telling me not to choke,” Smith said. “I tried to just play it off, and then as I was coming into the ball, he coughed and sneezed. I don’t know what he was trying to achieve.”