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Tiger nearly comes up aces at Torrey Pines in return to PGA Tour

Tod Leonard, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Golf

SAN DIEGO -- The moment can't be compared to the U.S. Open Sunday birdie putt on the 18th hole at Torrey Pines.

Few things in Tiger Woods' career can top that.

But for a guy coming off disk fusion surgery, with fans hungry for a glimpse of former greatness, it was still pretty sweet.

On Thursday in the Farmers Insurance Open, Woods came oh-so-close to halting a long-running hole-in-one drought. On the par-3 16th of the Torrey Pines South Course, he launched a high 6-iron shot that hit the green and rolled to within 6 inches of the cup.

"Felt good, looked good, the wind got it," Woods later said with a big grin.

Woods hasn't made an ace anywhere in 20 years -- since the 1998 International. Not on the PGA Tour. Not in a match with his buddies. Not on a pitch-and-putt with his kids.

An ace would have led sportscasts around the world, but the resulting birdie was still big. It helped Woods shoot even-par 72 in the first round and gave him a solid chance to make the cut as he moved to the North Course on Friday.

"I care about what I do," Woods said, "and it was fun to feel that competitive rush again ... have a scorecard in my hand and try to post a number."

Indicative of where Woods stands in his comeback from nearly a year outside the ropes, he's trying to play on the weekend in an official tournament for the first time since 2015. And he's already well off the pace of the leaders.

Fifth-year tour player Tony Finau poured in nine birdies on the North Course in shooting a 7-under 65. The next two on the leaderboard came from the South Course, with Ted Potter Jr. and Ryan Palmer each scoring 66.

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