By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
Tommy Fleetwood may have several reasons to celebrate here in the Bahamas if he continues the torrid pace he set on the course on day one of the Hero World World Challenge.
Fleetwood leads the field of 18 elite PGA Tour members when he shot a 66 (-6) yesterday at the Albany Golf Course. He birdied holes No. 3, 4, 7, 9 14 and 15 on the afternoon.
“I played really well, got off to a nice start. The first five holes I hit a lot of good shots and felt like I had a good rhythm and a couple birdies early on. Just carried on really. The front nine, 4 under on the front nine is a good start to the day,” he said. “Just played solid. I didn’t make a bogey and really good par to finish the round off. But yeah, generally to make birdies on most of the holes, the reachable par 5s and just played solidly all day. It was nice being out there, it’s a good atmosphere.”
Fleetwood plans to marry his fiancé Clare Craig at the resort on Tuesday, but for now his focus remains on the tournament.
“Clare’s in charge and she has picked out the venue, so it’s like ceremony, then dinner and then party at our villa. Yeah, I’ll make sure I know come Tuesday morning where I’m going. We’re not going to see each other Monday night, so it looks like might end up playing golf Tuesday morning and then going to the wedding.”
Fleetwood entered with two international victories this season at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and the HNA Open de France, but said he continues to adjust to the course as the event unfolds.
“When we got here this morning it was really blowing, so it was a strong wind and obviously that makes the course a little bit different. A couple of lines change off the tees and it was difficult. Anytime you sort of go up in those runoffs, it’s only my second round around here, you go up in those runoffs and around the greens, it’s so tricky. I just didn’t really put myself out of position. But greens are firming up. Yesterday was a lot damper after the rain, but I think the course is playing really well”
While Fleetwood tops the leaderboard, all focus was on the return of Tiger Woods.
Woods finished day one tied for eighth at 69 (-3). He bogeyed two par 5s at No.9 and No.15.
“Up and down because I had a lot of birdies, made a lot of putts. I didn’t play the par 5s very well, made two 6s and I grinded it out and made a few pars, which is nice. It was not only nice to get the first round out of the way, but also I’m only three shots out of the lead. So to be able to put myself there after not playing for, is it 10 months or so, in the neighborhood of that, it was nice to feel the adrenaline out there,” Woods said, “I was very happy I found the rhythm of the round by the second hole. After I hit that 8-iron in there pin high, I felt I’ve got the rhythm. I got tired last year. You saw, you could see I was 3 or 4 under par and then make a couple dubs, a couple bogeys here or there and lose the round.
This year obviously with my back better, my training sessions have been much better, my strength is up and I didn’t feel tired at all, which is great.”
Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar are tied for second place at 67 (-5).
Following them, the group tied for 4th at 68 (-4) includes Kevin Chappell, Justin Rose, Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth.
The group ties with Woods for eighth also includes Francesco Molinari, Charley Hoffman and Justin Thomas.
Henrik Stenson and Kevin Kisner are tied at No.12 at 68 (-2), defending champion Hideki Matsuyama and Brooks Koepka are tied at No.14 at 71 (-1), Patrick Reed shot an even 72, Alex Noren was 73 (+1) and Daniel Berger rounded out the field at 75 (+3).
11:10 AM Alex Noren – Stockholm, Sweden 73
Daniel Berger – Jupiter, FL 75
11:21 AM Brooks Koepka – West Palm Beach, FL 71
Patrick Reed – Houston, TX 72
11:32 AM Kevin Kisner – Aiken, SC 70
Hideki Matsuyama – Sendai, Japan 71
11:43 AM Tiger Woods – Jupiter, FL 69
Henrik Stenson – Gothenburg, Sweden 70
11:54 AM Charley Hoffman – Rancho Santa Fe, CA 69
Justin Thomas – Louisville, KY 69
12:05 PM Jordan Spieth – Dallas, TX 68
Francesco Molinari – Turin, Italy 69
12:16 PM Justin Rose – London, England 68
Dustin Johnson – Jupiter, FL 68
12:27 PM Matt Kuchar – Sea Island, GA 67
Kevin Chappell – Fresno, CA 68
12:38 PM Tommy Fleetwood – Southport, England 66
Rickie Fowler – Murrieta, CA 67