Alex Noren, Webb Simpson lead at Honda; Tigers Woods has solid 70

Alex Noren, Webb Simpson lead at Honda; Tigers Woods has solid 70

Alex Noren, Webb Simpson lead at Honda; Tigers Woods has solid 70

But at the Honda, he's more reasonably handicapped than he's been since he started his comeback.

Tiger Woods tees off on the 13th at PGA National. Better off the tee.

I was very happy with the way I hit it today.

Asked if it was the best he has hit the ball this year, Woods said, "Easily".

And indeed it was, even if the stats don't jump off the page.

To that point, his proximity to the hole on Thursday was 28 feet, 11 inches-or more than 11 feet better than in his first two starts of the year at Torrey Pines and Riviera. Last week, at Riviera, he ranked 121. "I said to Tiger, 'Why did you have to make me so nervous?'"

"I feel like I'm really not that far away", he said. There's not much of an advantage because hardly anyone plays PGA National the other 51 weeks of the year.

Garcia is another interesting favorite to keep an eye on at PGA National this week. It was tough all around; the wind was blowing pretty hard, the rough's up, and it's really tough to make putts out there.

FacebookPinterestGetty Images Will one of these seven West Coast winners be a major champion in 2018? The stats tell different stories
FacebookPinterestGetty Images Will one of these seven West Coast winners be a major champion in 2018? The stats tell different stories

Tiger has confirmed that he will play in this weekend's Honda Classic. "And I've got some work to do". He had to hit every conceivable shot Thursday, to shape it both ways, high and low, and he executed almost every one of them. The popular left-hander began the day with the lead, but fell behind on the back nine before securing victory by holing a bunker shot for birdie on the par-3 14th hole, and then following up a monster drive with a two-putt birdie on the par-5 17th.

"I'm starting to get that feeling again of playing tournament golf, where you know each and every shot counts", Woods said Wednesday after his pro-am round.

But what pleased Woods most was what he did next. Instead, he came up a yard short and into the water, made double bogey and shot 72. And so did the 6-footer that dropped for a bounce-back birdie. "As far as catch-up mode for the Masters, no, I don't feel like I am".

McIlroy admitted he was happy not to be paired with Tiger Woods again after saying the circus surrounding the 14-time major victor in last week's Genesis Open left him with a headache. But he's put together enough good rounds in the early going this year to have the confidence to get his name on the leaderboard at one of golf's biggest events in 2018.

A month later, Snedeker saw significant changes.

Woods had been undecided as late as early this week on whether he would play in the tournament for the first time since 2014. Not a problem. The carts were moved, leaving him a good angle into the green and he got a par.

"I'm just learning how to play tournament golf again, and unfortunately I've made some mistakes, and that's just part of it", he said.

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