Out-of-sorts Woods lags behind leaders in Antalya

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods
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Tiger Woods was unable to take advantage of ideal scoring conditions on the opening day of the Turkish Airlines Open as the No 1 made an indifferent return to action.

Playing in his first competitive event for a month, the American sat through a three-hour delay for bad weather then reached one under par after 10 holes of his first round before play was called to a halt due to fading light in Antalya.

The 37-year-old controversially decided to skip a World Golf Championships event in China last week to play a challenge match against Rory McIlroy and participate in exhibitions and clinics.

And Woods looked particularly rusty from the tee on his first showing since helping the United States retain the Presidents Cup, finishing the day tied for 52nd in the 78-man field.

The 14-time Major winner missed a string of fairways and found himself six shots off a blistering pace set by Paul Casey, Darren Fichardt and Steve Webster.

Lightning and heavy rain had delayed the opening round of the European Tour’s penultimate event of the season, but once play eventually started the extra moisture led to receptive greens at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal.

While Woods struggled to find his rhythm on a day when just 10 of the 78-man field finished over par, England’s former Ryder Cup star Casey had no such problems as he reached the green in two at the first and holed a lengthy eagle putt.

A 12-foot effort at the 11th completed a hat-trick of birdies, and by gaining another shot two holes later he took a share of the overnight lead on seven under par.

“I really thought you’ve got to get off to a quick one and I did exactly that,” said Casey.

“It was foot flat to the floor today and just fire at the pins, take advantage of the soft conditions and see what happens.”

His compatriot Webster birdied seven of the 12 holes he played on Thursday, with the 38-year-old in need of a strong showing to climb from 65th in the Race to Dubai into the top 60 who will contest DP World Tour Championship.

Only 15 players were able to complete 18 holes, with Argentinian Ricardo Gonzalez and Dane Thorbjorn Olesen faring best of those with rounds of 66.