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Spieth shines early, while Woods struggles in comeback

First Round — Hero World Challenge — Isleworth Golf and Country Club — Windermere, Florida —

Tiger Woods was the headliner at the opening round of the Hero World Challenge, acting as host, and returning to competitive golf after a lengthy layoff to recover from injury.

But, the host and five-time champion at the event, which features plenty of World Ranking Points, struggled from the first tee hitting his opening shot out-of-bounce. He ended up last in the 18-player field through one round at Isleworth Golf and Country Club carding a 5-over-77.

American Jordan Spieth, 21, continued his hot play firing a 6-under-66. He leads four players by a stroke fresh off his overseas victory at the Australian Open. Spieth scattered eight birdies around a lone bogey. He birdied four straight holes to complete his front-nine in 31.

Spieth, an 8-to-1 betting selection heading into the tournament at www.ladbrokes.com, has plenty of firepower on his tail just a shot back including World No. 2 Henrik Stenson, who just won the European Tour’s DP World Tour Championship in Dubai two weeks ago, Rickie Fowler, Steve Stricker and defending champion and former Masters champ Zach Johnson.

Two-time World Challenge champion Graeme McDowell is just two back alongside Hideki Matsuyama, who won the Japan Tour two weeks ago, and Jimmy Walker.

Woods, who struggled noticeably around the greens flubbing more than a few chips, was one of only three players to fail to break par in the opening round along with Patrick Reed and FedEx Cup champion Billy Horschel, who both shot 1-over.

Look for Spieth to hang in the mix, but fatigue and firepower at the top might win out in the long run.

Other Golf news:

  • Ross Fisher (6-under-66) opened the European Tour 2015 campaign at the Nedbank Golf Challenge with the 18-hole lead. Fisher is two shots ahead of European Tour champions from last season including Alexander Levy and Marcel Siem. A host of high-profile players are T-5 in South Africa including Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Brooks Koepka.
  • Using the Vapor product line, Woods is using new equipment this week from Nike Golf.
  • Waste Management agreed to continue its partnership with the PGA Tour to sponsor the Waste Management Phoenix Open. The company extended the agreement for 10 years. Kevin Stadler and PHil Mickelson are recently champions at TPC Scottsdale-hosted event.
  • Fisher was a 25-1 pick at ladbrokes.com heading into the European Tour season opener at Gary Player Country Club. Fisher won the Tshwane Open in South Africa last March and finished 20th last season in the Race to Dubai standings. He sits 88th in the Official World Golf Ranking.