Tiger Woods Takes Lead At Valspar Championship

Hope Soto
March 10, 2018

To make matters worse for these guys, the "Snake Pit" is statistically the 2nd toughest final three holes on the PGA Tour (according to PGATour.com).

Starting on the back nine of the testing Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort, Woods recovered from a wayward drive on the 10th to make par and also parred the next before holing from five feet for birdie on the 12th.

"I thought it was great", said Woods, ahead of the Valspar Championship this week.

Quotable: "I usually got a good memory, I guess, so I take good notes and kind of remember what you want to do on each hole". "That's how hard it is".

"Jordan (Spieth) has always played well".

Closing his opening nine with a scrambling par on the rugged, uphill 18th, Woods made the turn at three under for the tournament. The fact that the biggest challenge presented by the course comes at the end of the round will test the mental strength of the field once again this year.

Morning or afternoon, it didn't matter. I did a lot of guessing, I guessed pretty good.

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After the eventful day, Woods was optimistic about where his game is at. Other short odds to win are Rory McIlroy (14/1), Sergio Garcia (16/1) and Justin Rose (18/1).

The 14-time major champion is playing in his fourth PGA Tour event since returning from back fusion surgery this week, and this return seems to be different than the last three because Woods finally is healthy. He has shown steady progress, and this might have been his most steady performance, even with four bogeys. It was next to a tree that Woods had to straddle just to advance toward the green. "Into the wind it felt like you just hit walls and downwind it was you couldn't pick an angle". Woods would falter with a final-round 70, finishing four strokes behind victor Davis Love III, and less than a month later would have the first of two back operations that would keep him away from competitive golf, with a couple of exceptions, until January of this year.

The only unnerving moment came at the 16th, when he tugged his iron off the tee into the trees. On his follow-through, though, Woods' club hit a tree and he was forced to let go of it.

Legitimately competing for a tournament championship is yet another step for Woods on his journey back.

Mickelson's victory overshadowed a record tying 16 under par weekend by Thomas, highlighted by a fourth round ending eagle from the fairway to get him into the playoff.

The good news for Woods is that it was that kind of struggle for just about everyone.

The Northern Irishman started with 10 pars but a missed a putt from five feet for double bogey on his 14th hole. Not too often in Florida do you find elevation. "He's been in contention a few times", Woods said of his 47-year-old rival. I don't love that his price tag has gotten so high and for that fact alone, I'll be primarily avoiding him.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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