Tiger Woods endured a patchy return to the world of professional golf at the Hero World Challenge on Thursday.
The former world number one enjoyed a bright start in Albany, taking advantage of the unusually benign conditions on the front nine, but fell apart somewhat coming home.
Woods' one over 73 leaves him at the back of the field with just Olympic Champion Justin Rose behind him.
But the thing is, the 14-time major winner actually had a share of the lead when he moved to four under on the eighth hole. Players turned heads. Fans gave fist pumps. The clock had been turned back.
However, that was when Woods began to unravel somewhat. A number of shots were pulled to the left, leading to two bogeys on the ninth and 11th. Woods pulled a shot back on the 15th, but two double bogeys put a damper on what would have been an impressive return.
"I just made some mistakes,” quipped the 79-time PGA Tour winner, who found three bushes and the water during his two-faced round.
"I tried to hug that left side on nine, tried to get it down that corner and it just stayed up in the bush there, made a mistake.
"Tugged it up the left side on 11. Tried to hit one really hard and made a mistake there, put it in another bush on my layup.
"I just made some really, if you look at it, some really silly mistakes, mistakes I don't normally make, but I haven't played in a while.
"Unfortunately, I made those mistakes, I can clean that up. We've got three more days. Wind's supposed to pump on the weekend and I'll be playing a little bit better."
But is there a light at the end of the tunnel? You better believe it. Woods crunched a monstrous five iron on the third, proving to himself – and the world – that his power is back.
"People don't realise this, but it was a simple little five iron that I hit on the third hole (that was my favorite)," he added.
"I had 231 to the hole and I hit a five iron that carried 233 and that was nice because it was a number that we thought it was questionable whether or not I could get it to the front edge and that was the play.
"But to hit it that flush that early in the round, that felt good, gave me a little bit of confidence. I had to step on it to get it there and I did and I flushed it. That felt good."
Americans Ryan Armour and Bryson DeChambeau sit in second place.
The Englishman carded a 66 to put behind him the disappointment of playing alone and missing the cut last week.
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The 26-year-old California native revealed he has stuck to a 3,500 calorie a day diet.
The American was forced to pull out of the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
The world number one has become frustrated by errors that have kept him out of contention.
Brendon Todd led the way after the third round of the Travelers Championship.
McIlroy is four shots behind leader Phil Mickelson after seven withdrawals from the event due to Covid-19
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