Tiger Woods has an irregular return hampered by back problems

The Golf star finished Thursday's round at the Genesis Invitational with a card of 72 strokes, one over par, which leaves him in 49th place on the table, eight strokes behind the leader, his compatriot Patrick Cantlay.

(AFP) Amid great expectation for his return to the circuit, golf star Tiger Woods debuted this PGA season with an inconsistent first round at the Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles (California), hampered towards the end by persistent back problems.

The American, organizer of the event with his charitable foundation, finished Thursday's round with a card of 72 strokes, one over par, which leaves him in 49th place on the table, eight strokes behind the leader, his compatriot Patrick Cantlay (-8 ).

Tiger, 48, teed off shortly after nine on a pleasant morning at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisade. The former world number one, who had not played in an official event since the Augusta Masters last April, also debuted his image by wearing a cream-colored outfit from TaylorMade's Sun Day Red brand, with whom he partnered after ending his historic sponsorship agreement with Nike.

Among the crowd of fans who accompanied him on the day were some familiar faces such as the coach of the Los Angeles Clippers of the NBA, Tyronn Lue.

Woods, who underwent ankle surgery after the Masters, excited his fans by making a birdie on the first hole but quickly lost steam and followed up with two bogeys in a row.

"A lot of good and a lot of indifferent"

Tiger's round was haphazard, with a total of five birdies and six bogeys, one of them committed on the last hole after sending the ball between several trees.

"A lot of good and a lot of indifferent," he said. "It was one or the other. I don't know how many pars I had, wasn't many," added Woods, "I was either making birdies or bogeys and just never really got anything consistent going today.

"My back was spasming the last couple holes and it was locking up," explained the winner of 15 Grand Slam tournaments.

In addition to the back problems that have accompanied him throughout his career, Tiger also suffers from issues in his right leg as a result of the serious car accident in 2021.

The Californian will need to finish among the top 50 players (out of 70 participants) on Friday to make the cut and compete until the end of the tournament on Sunday.

At Riviera Country Club Woods made his PGA Tour debut as a 16-year-old high school student but victory has always eluded him since.

For his part, the world number one, Scottie Scheffler, finished with a card of 68 strokes (-3) and was placed in tenth place in an event that does not have the current champion, Spaniard, Jon Rahm, who left the PGA this season to join the rival LIV Golf circuit

Rankings after the first round of the Genesis Invitational tournament (par-71):

64 - Patrick Cantlay (USA)

65 - Cam Davis (AUS), Luke List (USA), Jason Day (AUS)

66 - Tom Hoge (USA), Jordan Spieth (USA), Will Zalatoris (USA)

67 – An Byeong-hun (KOR), Adam Svensson (CAN)

68 - Beau Hossler (USA), JT Poston (USA), Ludvig Aberg (SWE), Brendon Todd (USA), Scottie Scheffler (USA)