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Tiger brings the buzz back by taking lead but falters on back nine

NASSAU, Bahamas — One of the biggest cheers at the Hero World Challenge came from seeing the name Tiger Woods moved to the top of the leaderboard.

It just wasn't there for long.

In another impressive showing in his latest comeback from back surgeries, Woods built on a solid start with 31 on the front nine that briefly gave him the lead Friday. He stalled on the back with a pair of bogeys and not enough birdie chances, settling for 4-under 68.

"Successful," Woods said, when asked to describe his round in one word.

When the second round ended, Woods was five shots behind Charley Hoffman, who had 63 that might have sent fans into a frenzy if they had been watching.

Hoffman made 12 birdies, closing with five in a row. He was at 12-under 132 and had a three-shot lead over Jordan Spieth (67) and Tommy Fleetwood (69).

But this week, a holiday exhibition with an 18-man field, is all about Woods. That much was obvious after the round. Hoffman spoke to no more than five reporters about his round, while a dozen others were about 30 feet away surrounding Joe LaCava, Woods' caddie, looking for any additional morsel about his round.

Woods opened with three birdies in four holes. He made three good pars, one of them having to chip up the slope on No. 8, then really raised hopes with his eagle on the par-5 ninth, set up by a 3-wood into the wind from 265 yards. "Hit it up in the air and took something off of it and cut it back into the wind," he said.

He made the 20-foot putt to reach 8 under. Behind him, Hoffman made bogey. Woods was alone in the lead, and the scoreboard moved his name to the top as some 100 people — that constitutes a large gallery this week — began cheering. There was a smattering of "He's back!" and even a few mentions about the Masters.

But Woods couldn't keep it going and settled for 1-over 37 on the back nine.

Woods has hasn't won in more than four years. This is only his 20th start since the first of four back surgeries in the spring of 2014. He had played only seven rounds dating to August 2015, and this was his first competition in 10 months.

"You've got to be anxious — doesn't matter who it is," Spieth said. "It's still a new experience for him to have that little golf. And to come out and … work his way into contention, that's what's really exceptional."

"I said at the beginning of the week, I hope he wins," Hoffman said of Woods. "It's great for the game of golf. Hopefully I can stop him from winning this week. But anytime he's in contention, or even playing the golf tournaments, it brings a buzz to golf that we all need."

Tiger brings the buzz back by taking lead but falters on back nine 12/01/17 [Last modified: Friday, December 1, 2017 9:11pm]
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