Swede Noren leads in Florida, Woods shoots even par

But while three-time green jacket victor Phil Mickelson and four-time champion Tiger Woods believe lifting some silverware in the build-up is key, McIlroy begs to differ. Now his game needs work.

Woods was two under after four holes before a bogey at his seventh hole and a double-bogey at his 12th proved costly. He hit less than half his fairways and greens at Riviera.

The last time Woods played at the Honda Classic was in 2014, when he withdrew after 13 holes of the final round citing back pain. I like him to bounce back this year, as he comes into this tournament in excellent form.

"I played quite steady my front nine, which was the back nine, then I just scrambled my way around the front nine", Noren said.

But on a course with lots of water and crosswinds, Woods was otherwise solid. He worked on the same swing keys that have been his focus since his latest comeback began. Get the app and get the game.

He'll be challenged this week by a course that threatens to harshly expose the slightest miscue. Most players believe he can win again, which is the prudent thing to say because imagine the headlines if someone said they didn't think he could win.

This marks Woods's third Tour start after undergoing surgery to fuse his back.

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Woods's 70, level par at this Florida venue, arguably represented his boldest statement of the year. Its infamous "Bear Trap" has been the third-hardest three-hole stretch on TOUR over the past decade. The south Florida breezes are expected to blow all week, as well.

No one has dealt with big crowds like Woods.

"I'm starting to get into that flow again", he said. Toward the end of the round, his short game started to shine. His strokes gained-tee to green was also the best since the 2015 Wyndham Championship. He'll have to hit the ball better to have a chance this week.

"And they're pretty close to you, especially on the 17th tee", defending Honda champion Rickie Fowler said.

"Obviously if you do win one, it makes you feel a little better about yourself going there". You have to hit fairways.

McIlroy plays a shot during the pro-am round prior to the Honda Classic at PGA National Resort and Spa. And with five top-15 finishes in the Honda Classic in the last seven years, this could be his week. Harrington is certain he will win another major, something Woods hasn't done in 10 years. Woods eagled 18 to put pressure on McIlroy, but ultimately finished two shots behind him.

Nick Faldo once said that when he helped Woods into the green jacket at the 1997 Masters, he thought at the time it might be the only major Woods could win because Augusta National creates a buffer zone - no press, no photographer, practically nobody inside the ropes except players and caddies.

  • Lawrence Cooper