Tiger Woods contending usually 6 months after fearing career over

5:15 PM ET

PALM HARBOR, Fla. — For a improved partial of an hour Friday, Tiger Woods‘ name graced a tip of a golf contest leaderboard. Alone. All by himself.

Facing a 5-footer on a fifth hole (his 14th of a day), Woods rolled in for a birdie to take a undisguised lead in a Valspar Championship.

The gallery swarmed around him, following him from hole to hole.

It’s how he always used to be, and how many never approaching to see him again.

Tiger ends ‘good day’ during Valspar dual out of lead

Tiger Woods put his name on a leaderboard again, and this time it stayed there. His 3-under 68 gave him a share of a early lead Friday during a Valspar Championship. He staid in during dual shots behind Corey Conners, who leads a contest during 6 under.

And no matter how this eventuality ends for him, Woods heading a golf contest only 4 events and 12 rounds into a never-assured quip is a surprise, even for him. He literally had no thought he led a contest for a widen Friday, observant that any time he looked during one of a electronic scoreboards, it was display information about one of his personification partners.

“Could we have envisioned myself being here? No,” he pronounced after a 3-under-par 68 had him tied for a lead with Paul Casey, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Palmer and Corey Conners when he finished play. “My surgeon hadn’t told me we was fused. If I’m not fused, this is a totally opposite game. Am we going to feel what we did for a final four, 5 years? Or am we going to be like this?”

“Like this” is signs of a prior chronicle of Tiger Woods. The absolute tee shots. The pointy brief game. The purchase putting.

All of that had been blank for many of a past 4 years as Woods underwent 3 microdiscectomy procedures to understanding with a hoop emanate in his reduce behind and finally a spinal alloy on Apr 19 that has separated a haughtiness pain he gifted though left him incompetent to pitch a bar for 6 months.

And while Woods gave an enlivening news about his destiny health final Sep when he served as an partner for a U.S. Presidents Cup team, he also cautioned he had no thought if he could play golf, let alone contest during a top level. “Definitely,” Woods pronounced then. “I don’t know what my destiny binds for me.”

“I hadn’t finished anything golf-wise [at that indicate during a Presidents Cup],” he combined Friday. “Did we feel any pain? No. we strike a integrate of putts here and there and that is not unequivocally doing much.”

Since then, Woods has played 16 rounds of rival golf, including 4 in a Bahamas during a unaccepted World Golf Challenge. Initially there was fear he competence not mangle 80 for a time, though a top measure he has shot so distant is a 76 in a second turn of a Genesis Open, where he missed a cut 3 weeks ago.

He has shot 5 rounds in a 60s, 3 of them in a Bahamas, though has managed to stay around standard for all though dual rounds.

When creation a cut was a reasonable idea during a Farmers Insurance Open, he tied for 23rd. He regressed during Riviera a bit, a eight-hole widen to finish a second turn a matter of not guileless his pitch and being incompetent to save himself with his brief game.

The Honda Classic seemed a risk, with all a H2O and silt dotting a PGA National course, though Woods saw himself as a weekend contender, nonetheless he missed a playoff by 8 strokes and finished adult finishing 12th.

The preference to supplement a Valspar during a final notation has valid to be beneficial, a additional rounds of foe he is seeking branch into a possibility to be in contention. He kick Jordan Spieth by 9 shots and Henrik Stenson by 10 by 36 holes — and those dual guys are a final dual Open champions.

Woods finished Friday in a five-way tie for second, dual strokes behind Conners.

“I don’t see it going behind from here,” pronounced Snedeker, who played a turn with Woods during Torrey Pines and twice during a Honda Classic. “The some-more time he has, he’s going to feel better. There have been a lot of positives.”

Perhaps a biggest is health. It all started there for Woods, who clearly feels improved than he has in years. The haughtiness pain is gone, and it has authorised him to pitch openly and aggressively.

Friday morning brought a coldest temperatures he’s had to face, positively not good for a bad back. With a 7:56 a.m. tee time, Woods was adult several hours forward of it, going by his fast for removing prepared to play a contest round. He arrived approximately an hour before his tee time, warming adult in nearby dark — and did not transport so well.

“I was frozen out there,” he said. “I was only perplexing to stay warm. we was attack it all over a place.”

A few cringe-worthy moments have occurred in any tournament, including Thursday’s brush with a hunger tree — Woods slammed his forearm into a tree case — and an instance on Friday when he aggressively went after a shot out of a severe on a 18th hole.

The Tiger of a past few years simply could not do that. His physique would not concede it. The signs of trouble were mostly there, no some-more so than a hobbling speed final Feb in Dubai, where he shot a birdie-less 77 and withdrew a subsequent day.

Thinking of that picture of Woods and to now see him nearby a lead of a golf contest only 13 months after is remarkable.

“I am not astounded one bit,” pronounced Sean Foley, Woods’ former coach, who worked with a 14-time vital champion from 2010 by 2014. “After a Hero, we was really optimistic. Very blissful for him. He is Tiger Woods, so good play is never surprising.”

Woods was being distant some-more useful Friday, awaiting to no longer be in a lead when a day concluded, observant that 36 holes still remained, commenting on a problem of a Copperhead march and changing weekend conditions.

“I keep removing a small bit improved here and there, creation these small pointed tweaks and I’ve finished that from contest to tournament,” he said. “I need to get a small bit some-more contest time, and we consider I’ve finished that and I’m starting to get a improved feel for it.

“I’m attack a shots. we don’t have a problem posting scores — only perplexing to figure out how to play golf again.”

It seemed he did a flattering good pursuit of it on Friday, heading by himself for a time and creation many consternation how it is even possible.

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