After slow start, Tiger (64) surges to lead in Japan

CHIBA, Japan — The start could not have been much worse for Tiger Woods: an opening tee shot in the water, another hooked into the trees and a three-putt all in the first three holes, leading to three bogeys.

Things sure changed after that.

Woods went on a tear at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club, birdieing nine holes the rest of the way to surge to the top of the leaderboard at the Zozo Championship, the first PGA Tour event contested in Japan. Woods shot 29 on his second nine.

The 6-under-par 64 was a great start to the new season for Woods, who is making his 2019-20 debut following a nine-week break in which he had knee surgery.

At one point, Woods hit 14 greens in a row in regulation, giving himself numerous birdie opportunities. He lipped out one and left another 8-footer just outside the hole. When he finally missed a green at the par-4 eighth hole (his 17th), Woods easily got it up and down for par.

Woods is playing for the first time since he tied for 37th at the BMW Championship in August. That was his sixth tournament after he won the Masters in April. In most of them, he played poorly due to various ailments, including a stiff back, an oblique injury and — as he revealed this week — a sore knee. Woods had arthroscopic surgery on Aug. 20.

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