Published: Fri, March 16, 2018
Sports | By Toni Houston

Woods back in contention at happy hunting ground

Woods back in contention at happy hunting ground

A record eight-time victor of the Palmer event, Woods sits three-under-par through nine holes and is tied atop the leaderboard with fellow American Bill Hurley.

On days like this, when Woods birdied every par-5 and drained an uphill, downhill, curling 71-foot putt for birdie on his third-to-last hole, it's tempting to pronounce that he is almost back to being the same as he ever was.

The 2016 Open champion boasts a single shot lead from the American pair of Aaron Wise and Talor Gooch.

Teeing off Bay Hill's 10th hole, Woods put on a ball-striking clinic on his front nine - hitting seven of nine greens and four of seven fairways to race into a share of the lead.

But, playing with supreme confidence, Woods was quickly back on track, picking up his fourth birdie of the day at the par- five fourth to inch his way back up the leaderboard.

Tiger Woods is officially back! It's going to be a wild Thursday morning that's worth locking in to before the tourney really gets going in the afternoon.

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"It was little things like that. sharing jokes with him out there on the green and he and I laughing". If you were wondering, Woods won the 2013 PGA Championship. "But that comes with the excitement of having him back and seeing him play well, so I thought it was great".

Rory McIlroy, who has missed two cuts in his past four starts, double-bogeyed 18, but still finished with a three-under 69.

On the eve of the Bay Hill tournament Woods was named as United States of America captain for the next Presidents Cup, a role usually reserved for veterans at the end of their career.

A 11-foot par putt on No. 9 wrapped up a thrilling day for Woods, who is in contention for the second week in a row after finishing T2 at the Valspar Championship last week.

And then came the big finish - two birdies on the par 5s, including a bold flop shot from a tight lie over a bunker at No. 6, and the 70-foot putt he was hoping would be close.

"I love being on top when Tiger's around", Reed said. They go at 8:23 a.m. ET, giving you plenty of time to ignore more of your work before you check out for the NCAA tournament around lunchtime.

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