Tiger feeling 'revved up' after round one at Valspar

Woods' score of 68 in Friday's second round of the Valspar Championship ran his overall score to -4 and gave him the share of a clubhouse lead for the first time since he won his last PGA Tour event, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational that was held way back in August 2013.

The moment of magic came after Woods, a 14-time major victor, pulled a tee shot on the 16th into the trees. There was a chill in the Florida air, and the wind made it feel colder. "It's the reward to go out there and make a couple birdies here and there, and I like that type of challenge".

Woods went off early in a group with Henrik Stenson and Jordan Spieth, and while both his playing partners struggled mightily on the way to a missed cut, Woods was almost flawless.

It was like for everybody, especially Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy.

And McIlroy's fellow Irishmen on duty also struggled. Phil at 47. there are a few guys who can do it later in their career and I'm just ecstatic to have a chance to play again and compete.

So much for that week off: Conners came into the week as the third alternate and shot a 71 at the Monday qualifier-not good enough.

"This golf course is very hard but I think it sets up well for my game", said the PGA Tour rookie.

At even-par through nine holes, the 42-year-old Woods then made consecutive birdies to start the back nine but followed that immediately with a pair of bogeys. It was next to a tree that Woods had to straddle just to advance toward the green. It was the first time Woods posted a lower score than Spieth in the eight rounds they've played together.

He gave a shot back at the tough par-3 fourth, hitting his tee ball way over the green and into the pine straw. From there, he had an awkward stance near a tree and was fortunate to make a bogey. 2 and 5 to take the lead by himself before missing a five-foot par putt on No. 18 for a bogey that sullied his clean card for the day.

"Into the wind, it felt like you just hit walls", he said. "But here I am playing again and it's a lot of fun", the American added.

"I feel good. I feel like I was playing well at [the Honda Classic in late February]", he continued.

Woods missed all of 2016 and most of 2017 because of debilitating back trouble that culiminated in spinal fusion surgery last April.

  • Julie Sanders