BETHESDA, Md. --Tiger Woods had a feeling that his first competitive round in more than three months, after undergoing back surgery, was not going to be easy.
It was not his back that gave the 38-year-old Woods trouble in Thursday's opening round of the Quicken Loans National at Congressional Country Club.
It was his hands.
The touch around the greens that Woods has demonstrated for most of his legendary career was not there until the last six holes, when three birdies helped him overcome a terrible start to finish at 3-over par 74.
Woods hit some uncharacteristically poor chip shots and missed at least three makeable birdie putts in shooting a 39 on his first nine holes -- Congressional's back nine.
After making consecutive bogeys to start his back nine, Woods finally began resembling the player who has won 79 PGA Tour events. Still, he didn't make a putt longer than 10 feet and is eight strokes behind leader Greg Chalmers of Australia.
"The score is not really indicative of how I played," said Woods, who at one point was dead last in the field when he had fallen to 6-over par through 12 holes. "I made so many little mistakes."
Asked how his back is feeling, Woods said: "The back's great. I had no issues at all. No twinges, no nothing. It felt fantastic. That's one reason why I let go on those tee shots. I hit it pretty hard out there."
The featured group of Woods, Jason Day of Australia and rising American star Jordan Spieth were never under par after each bogeyed the first two holes. Day finished at 2-over par 73 and Spieth also shot 74.
Ricky Barnes is in second place, one shot behind Chalmers. Patrick Reed and Erik Compton were tied at 3-under.
Woods agreed that there was a sense of relief to be back on the tour after surgery to alleviate a nerve impingement.
"It really is," he said. "It's nice to get back out here playing again. I unfortunately have been in my career on the sidelines enough, so it's always fun to come back out here and play against these guys."
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