Tiger Woods positive after first-round 70 at Honda Classic

Tiger Woods believes he is continuing to see improvements in his game after making an encouraging start to the Honda Classic.

The former world No 1 mixed three birdies with a bogey and one double-bogey in breezy conditions in Florida to post a level-par 70, keeping him within four strokes of morning pacesetter Alex Noren.

Making back-to-back starts on the PGA Tour for the first time since August 2015, Woods only hit half of the 14 fairways but scrambled well to equal his best opening round at PGA National.

“I felt comfortable out there today,” Woods said. “I had to hit a lot of knock-down shots, I had to work the golf ball both ways and occasionally downwind, straight up in the air. I was able to do all that today, so that was very pleasing.

“I feel like I’m really not that far away. I’m starting to really get a feel for scoring again and scoring in tournaments, and today was a day that I’m very proud of because I missed the ball in the correct spots.”

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Beginning on the back nine, Woods recovered from missing the opening fairway to post a two-putt par before draining a 20-footer at the par-four next.

Woods ended up behind a pretzel stand off the 12th tee but was able to get back into play and save par, with a six-foot gain at the 13th briefly moving him tied for the lead.

The 14-time major champion rolled a five-footer home to avoid dropping a shot at the 14th, only to bogey the 16th after failing to get up-and-down from a greenside bunker.

Woods found the bunker with his approach into the par-five third and undercooked a chip out of the rough, before requiring two putts from inside five feet on his way to carding a double-bogey seven.

The 42-year-old bounced back immediately with a seven-foot gain at the fourth to get back to level par, with Woods delivering a string of pars to stay in touch with the early leaders.

Watch the Honda Classic throughout the week live on Sky Sports. Live coverage continues on Friday from 2pm on Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event.

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