It was the return many waited for, and boy did they get a show. Tiger Woods displayed his old form of brilliance at several points throughout the round, but also had two major hiccups.
His first issue came at the opening hole, where he sprayed his drive wide into the rough, and settled for poor shots up to the green resulting in a double bogey. After that, however, Woods settled down a bit.
He made the turn in one-under, capped with back-to-back birdies at holes eight and nine. However, Woods found himself in trouble again when he reached the 14th hole. He would go on to double-bogey the hole and finish with a one-over 72.
I think this was a middling to decent round for Woods, as he sees the leader just four shots in front, well within reach for the world's best player. Woods, paired with Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott, ranked second and third in the world, respectively, saw a lot of media coverage throughout the opening day at Torrey Pines.
His knee seemed to hold up quite well, as he showed grimaces on just a few occasions. His knee was also tested with many tough lies, most notably a bunker shot on the fourth hole. He addressed the ball and knocked a five-iron from 220 yards out to within 4 feet for an easy birdie.
Woods' familiarity with his surroundings may have helped ease the return, as he caught fire towards the middle of his round. He was sinking putts on a routine basis, but could never find a streak of three or four birdies in a row.
Still, even Woods can't complain about his first official round since surgery sidelined him for months.
"It helps when you hit six shots on the first hole," Woods said sarcastically when asked what his biggest challenge was coming back from injury.
He recovered well though, and now finds himself well within striking distance of surprise leader Justin Hicks.
Although he is not well-known for his up-and-down rounds, Woods was able to rebound from difficulties to sink timely par putts, escaping with a 72.
And if anyone can come back from merely an average round, it is Woods.
That said, keep an eye out for Woods again on Friday as he attempts to put together a round under-par to vie for contention heading into the weekend.
Woods' playing partners Mickelson and Scott shot 70 and 73, respectively. Justin Hicks was the clubhouse leader at -3 when this story was published.