The 14-time Major champion flared his second shot into the par-four ninth – after starting on the tenth – to the right of the green.
Corey Conners and Kelly Kraft, both of whom teed off after Woods, eventually moved in front of that grouping.
He’ll be paired with Woods again on Sunday in the second-to-last twosome. “I’ve been ready to go”.
“I’ve only played 10 rounds”, he said. “They’ve been fired up, and it’s exciting for all of us”.
It was his first opening round under par on the PGA Tour since a 64 in the Wyndham Championship in August 2015.
Woods got within two shots of the lead by ripping a long iron from the top collar of a bunker on the par-5 11th and using the slope to chip close for a tap-in birdie.
He is tied for second, one shot behind leader? He hasn’t won in five years, enduring four back surgeries since his last PGA TOUR win.
Snedeker is vying for a Masters bid.
However, presentable birdie chances went begging for the 14-time major champion at the 11th and 12th, and he then made a clumsy bogey at the short 13th after a ugly pulled tee shot. “I really had a hard time today figuring out what to hit”. I made that one. I’ve been here before. “I was just trying to stay warm. There’s a lot of guys up there with a chance”.
“I can confirm”, Snedeker, Woods’s playing partner Saturday, said, “he’s back”. Snedeker will be grouped with Woods again Sunday (1:50 p.m. ET).
Two fascinating stories will be played out tomorrow therefore, one involving a young player looking to quickly elevate his career, the other with nothing to prove given his wonderful record but the opportunity to further consolidate his standing as one of the greats if not the greatest the game has seen.
On Friday when he moved to within two strokes of the lead, Las Vegas installed Woods as the third favorite to win this year’s Masters. Only four players broke 70 from the morning wave.
Rose said his eagle “ignited things” for him.
For all the 20-somethings who’ve spent their careers wondering what it would be like to play against Tiger at something approaching his best, the passing answer could be heard, and felt, with every cheer.
Conners added birdies at Nos. On the next hole, the par-4 10th, Woods rolled in a 22-footer for birdie to briefly seize a share of the lead.
“I was freezing out there”, he said. “I was laughing. It’s just him to a tee. Just kind of vintage Tiger”. I hit a lot of good iron shots today, and I had some good speed on the putts. “That was nice. It was nice to get the momentum, keep the momentum going”.
Graeme McDowell made the cut on the number after a one-over 72 left him on three over. From there, he had an awkward stance near a tree and was fortunate to make a bogey. “Back to the good ol” days, for sure”. “He’s back in action and everyone’s rooting for him”.
“Another round of 66 like that tomorrow will be great to take to the Arnold Palmer and then a great showing at Bay Hill could get me into the Match-Play and hopefully then onto Augusta”, said Knox.
“We’ve had a good time”.
There’s been a palpable current of electricity running through the grounds this week at the Valspar, usually a relatively sleepy affair with a modest field of pros as PGA Tour tournaments go. (Justin Rose) has been playing well. And Conners will do so again Sunday alongside Rose (2 p.m. ET).
He’s played sound, consistent golf to put himself in contention. Now he is aiming for maiden tour win in just his 17th start before crowds rarely seen this side of a major.
“I see the scoreboard, I see what he’s doing … it will be fun, ” Patrick Reed said. “Fun position to be”.