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Tiger returns to PGA at Match Play Championship

AP PhotoTiger Woods drives on the second hole during the first round of the World Golf Championships Accenture Match Play Championship Wednesday in Marana, Ariz.
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MARANA, Ariz. ” So much for the rust.

A focused Tiger Woods played his first three holes of competition since June, going 2-up on Australia’s Brendan Jones on Wednesday at the Accenture Match Play Championship.

A huge gallery cheered and one spectator shouted “You are back!” as an almost expressionless Woods hit his first drive after a 253-day layoff right down the fairway .



As he hit his approach shot close to the second hole, Woods gave a much-abridged version of his trademark fist pump.

It was a day that served as a reminder of how quickly Match Play can go.



As Woods walked out of the clubhouse, Anthony Kim had already dispatched of Wen-Tang Lin of Taiwan, not losing a single hole in his 7-and-5 victory. Moments later, Camilo Villegas of Colombia defeated Rod Pampling of Australia, 7 and 6.

Woods is the defending champion at Match Play, but a year ago he had to play the final five holes in 5 under par simply to get out of the first round. He is the No. 1 seed, which means very little in 18 holes of match play.

“I’m sure he’s going to play great,” Kim said. “He always does.”



Lee Westwood won the opening match of the tournament, 2 and 1, over Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand.

Woods has not played since winning the U.S. Open on June 16 in a playoff over Rocco Mediate. He had reconstructive surgery on his left knee a week later, making this the longest break from golf in his career.

He is a three-time winner of Match Play, losing only once in the first round, seven years ago to Peter O’Malley of Australia.


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