As Tiger Woods loses ground, Spieth and Scheffler share the lead in the Bahamas

Tiger Woods opened Friday's Hero World Challenge with four birdies in seven holes, but the finish was a struggle that included a putt that went off the green into a bunker.

It added a 2-under 70 that put Woods 10 shots behind Scotty Scheffler and Jordan Spieth, but still in good shape in Albany and slowly getting back into the groove.

But the back nine is not helping. Woods shot a back-to-back 39 in the opening round and he shot a 38 on Friday with a 30-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th. For Woods, why he couldn't finish better wasn't a great mystery.

“Maybe because I haven't played in a while,” he laughed.

It was his first tournament since he withdrew before finishing his third round Sunday morning at the rain-delayed Masters, and underwent ankle fusion surgery a few weeks later. In fact, Woods hasn't completed 72 holes since the 2022 Masters.

“I'm rusty,” he said. “This golf course will bring that out of you. You can run the table here or go the other way. Unfortunately, I didn't finish my rounds the way I wanted to.”

Scheffler had eight birdies on a day good enough to score well. He lost the lead on his final hole when he went into a waste area behind the 18th hole, with his ball in a slight depression. He did well to get it out to 15 feet but missed the par putt.

“As long as you can keep it out of trouble, you're going to play well,” Scheffler said.

Spieth had eagle putts on all four holes — including two par 4s — didn't miss a fairway and managed a relatively boring round, at least compared to Thursday when he parred just five. This time he was bogey-free for 67 runs.

Scheffler and Spieth were at 9-under 135, one shot ahead of British Open champion Brian Herman, who shot a 31 on the back nine to secure a 69.

For Woods, trouble came again on the par-5 15th hole, where he double-bogeyed in the first round after trying to cut it from a bush on sandy clay. This time, he piped his drive and only had a 9-iron on the green. But he pulled it into a bunker, put little green between him and the hole, and blasted it to 35 feet.

That was not the problem. His putt was very solid, running by the hole, off the green and back into the bunker. He had to make a 15-footer to escape with the bogey.

Woods once hit a putt on the 13th green into a tributary of Rye's Creek at the Masters. But he couldn't remember hitting the bunker.

“It was not a good putt,” he said. “It was low wind, and I hit it too hard. It started moving in the wind and went over the grain and went. I was obviously ticked. At the end of the day, it was better than yesterday.”

He also three-putted from within 15 feet for bogey on the 13th, missed a short birdie chance on the reachable par-4 on the 14th and dropped a shot on the 16th, the toughest in Albany.

Woods was five shots better than his first round, though still tied for 15th in the 20-man field.

“I think it's just trying to get my feel and mindset back on a shot and how many things go through my mind to get the shot to hit the right trajectory, the right window, the right shape, the right distance,” he said. “I did a better job on it today and I'm sure I'll do a better job tomorrow.

“The more rounds and more reps I get under my belt competitively, I think those things will start to come back.”

Reporting by the Associated Press.

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