SHANGHAI, China -- Playing in his first tournament in five
weeks, Tiger Woods had a double bogey on his second hole and
finished the opening round of the HSBC Champions tournament seven
shots behind leader Jyoti Randhawa.
Woods, who had gone 39 days without hitting a competitive shot
after winning the World Golf Championship by eight shots on Oct. 1,
shot an even-par 72 Thursday.
"I was right there in a position to get to 4 under," Woods
said. "Unfortunately, it didn't happen that way -- it went the
other way -- and I left myself an awful lot of work with three days
India's Randhawa made seven birdies and finished with a 65 to
take a one-stroke lead over 2005 U.S. Open champion Michael
Campbell and two others. Scotland's Marc Warren and South Korea's
Yang Yong-eun also were at 6 under.
Padraig Harrington, who clinched the 2006 European Order of
Merit title two weeks ago at Valderrama, Spain, and Thailand's
Plaphol Chawalit had 67s and were tied for fifth after the opening
round. Five players, including Retief Goosen and K.J. Choi, were at
4 under. Chris DiMarco, Colin Montgomerie and Peter O'Malley each
shot 3-under 69.
The Asian Tour's No. 1 player, Jeev Singh of India, played in
Woods' group and was at 2 under.
Woods finished one stroke better than Jim Furyk, who had five
bogeys and four birdies in a 1-over 73. Woods started with a birdie
at the 10th, but followed it with a double-bogey 6 after hooking
his drive into some trees.
"It throws the momentum off in the wrong direction," Woods
said. "Tomorrow, I hope to get off to a better start."
Woods made back-to-back birdies at the second and third holes --
his 11th and 12th of the day -- to move to 2-under, but had a bogey
at the par-5 eighth, pushing a fairway wood into rocks and water
trying to reach the green in two.
"Very frustrating," he said.
Randhawa called the $5 million tournament -- the first of the
2007 season on the European Tour and jointly sanctioned by the PGAs
in Asia, Australasia and South Africa -- almost as big as a major.
"It was one of the biggest rounds of my career -- a big
tournament, big players," he said. "So to be leading gives me
Randhawa, who won the Indian Open after a three-way playoff last
month, said he tried to ignore the hype.
"It's great to have gotten a good round in a field like this --
especially with Tiger Woods. [But] I try not to think about that --
it might break my rhythm," he said.
Tennis star Roger Federer was in the crowd as a special guest of
Woods. Federer is in Shanghai for the season-ending Tennis Masters
Cup, which starts Sunday. Woods watched the Swiss star win the U.S.
Open in September.
The pair talked in the clubhouse immediately after Woods' round.
"Rog is a great guy. We've become good friends. For him to come
out here and watch and support is special," Woods said. "He's
busy. He's getting ready for the tournament here on Sunday. He's
going to go back now and start hitting."
Woods has not lost a 72-hole event since July 9, when he
finished two shots behind Trevor Immelman at the Western Open.
Woods said the long break did a lot of good after an intense year
in which he won two majors but also coped with the death of his
father and with criticism for skipping the PGA's season-ending Tour
Championship last week in Atlanta.
Still left on his schedule is the two-day Grand Slam of Golf on
Nov. 21-22 in Hawaii, followed by the Target World Challenge on
Dec. 14-17 in Thousand Oaks, Calif., an unofficial event that
raises money for his learning center.
"Oh, I needed it," Woods said of the break. "It was a lot. I
know I don't play that much golf, but it's how the schedule worked
out this year and I was awfully tired. It's always nice when you
get that break and the light's at the end of the tunnel."