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Woods starts strong, fades in return to PGA Tour

Tiger shoots 73 in first round of Hero World Challenge

Associated Press Published: December 2, 2016 4:00 AM

NASSAU, Bahamas -- Not only did Tiger Woods return to golf Thursday, he returned to being Tiger.

Just not for long.

Hardly looking like a player who had not competed in 466 days, Woods ran off three straight birdies with a variety of shots and was tied for the lead in the Hero World Challenge as he approached the turn.

Three shots in the bushes, one shot in the water and a few fits of anger sent him toward the bottom of the pack. A pair of double bogeys over the final three holes ruined an otherwise impressive return, and Woods shot 40 on the back nine at Albany Golf Club and had to settle for a 1-over 73.

He was in 17th place in the 18-man field. Only Justin Rose had a higher score.

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Even so, Woods has reason to be encouraged. After taking off 15 months to recover from two back surgeries, he felt no pain or limitations. His misses were not big, just costly. And he was playing again.

He was nine shots behind J.B. Holmes, who opened with an 8-under 64 and had a one-shot lead over Hideki Matsuyama, with U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson at 66.

Woods is coming off the longest hiatus of his golfing life. Plagued by back problems since 2013 when he was No. 1 in the world, he finally shut it down after tying for 10th in the Wyndham Championship on Aug. 23, 2015, and then going through two back surgeries.

 

FOOTBALL

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Zimmer misses Vikings

game due to eye issue

MINNEAPOLIS -- For the first time in his 23-year NFL coaching career, Mike Zimmer wasn't at the stadium with his team.

With the Minnesota Vikings hosting Dallas on Thursday night, Zimmer was at home resting after emergency surgery to repair a detached retina.

Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer took over as the interim head coach, a decision that Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said would be the least disruptive to the team. Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur (Cleveland, 2011-12) and offensive line coach Tony Sparano (Miami, 2008-11) each have prior experience as an NFL head coach, but they remained in their roles. Zimmer is the play-caller for the defense, considered one of the savviest in the league, and that duty fell to defensive coordinator George Edwards.

The team's flagship radio station, KFAN-FM, reported on the pregame show that Zimmer visited the team hotel to address the players in the afternoon. The Vikings played a video clip of Zimmer encouraging the team during training camp with a get-well-soon message on the scoreboard prior to kickoff. Spielman declined to speculate on whether Zimmer would have to miss multiple games during the recovery, but with the Dec. 11 game at Jacksonville the coach is unlikely to be cleared in time for air travel with his condition.

 

Hoosiers coach Wilson

abruptly resigns

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana coach Kevin Wilson abruptly resigned Thursday, less than a week after the Hoosiers became bowl-eligible for the second straight season.

Athletic director Fred Glass made the announcement during a hastily arranged news conference and cited "philosophical differences" with Wilson. There were reports that Wilson had pushed players to return from injury and Glass said the issue was looked into by a law firm hired by the university.

"I understand there's been a lot of back-and-forth about former players and those sorts of things," he said. "I'll just tell you we have no outstanding claims of medical cases."

"I know this issue about medical has come out, and the reason I can speak so confidently that we don't have any medical issues and that our medical care has been so robust is that the outside group found that to be the case," he added.

Glass also said no potential NCAA violations were involved. He said he and Wilson met early Thursday and continued a discussion they'd been having "for a few weeks," with both concluding a change was needed.

"There is no smoking gun or single precipitating event that led to where we are today," Glass said. "I think it's really a realization by myself and Kevin that we're not on the same page with key ways in which the program needs to be led."

Defensive coordinator Tom Allen was promoted to take Wilson's job, effective immediately.

 

Season-ending surgery

for Bears QB Cutler

Jay Cutler's season is over and his time in Chicago might be, too.

Coach John Fox announced Thursday that the veteran quarterback will have season-ending surgery on his right shoulder, the latest blow in a lost year for the Bears.

The operation to repair the labrum will take place on Saturday.

"I talked to him earlier today. He's in good spirits," Fox said. "It wasn't like it was never going to be an option. You try to avoid it, especially for a quarterback on your throwing shoulder. But he talked to many capable doctors, like he should. So that's been the determination at this point."

Matt Barkley figures to start his second straight game when the Bears (2-9) host San Francisco (1-10) in a matchup between struggling teams on Sunday.

Cutler injured his shoulder during a loss to the New York Giants on Nov. 20 but finished the game. Fox initially insisted the injury was not season-ending. But after working through treatment options, Cutler won't play again this season.

 

Gronk reportedly set

for back surgery

The Rams are heavy underdogs for Sunday's game at New England, but at least they can stop game-planning for Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Gronkowski is scheduled to undergo back surgery Friday in Los Angeles, according to multiple reports.

Gronkowski has had a series of injuries this season.

He suffered a chest injury that forced him to sit out against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 11 but played against the New York Jets last week.

Gronkowski has 25 receptions, three for touchdowns.

 

Another former NFL player

killed near New Orleans

Former NFL player Joe McKnight was shot to death Thursday following an argument at an intersection with another motorist.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand said the incident involving McKnight happened about 2:43 p.m. Thursday in Terrytown, a suburb of New Orleans.

The 28-year-old running back was standing outside his car when he was shot by Ronald Gasser, 54, Normand said during a news conference at the scene of the shooting.

"The only thing we know right now, everything else is conjecture, is that Mr. Gasser did in fact shoot Mr. McKnight," Normand said.

McKnight is the second former NFL player this year to die in the New Orleans area as a result of a possible road-rage incident. Former New Orleans Saints player Will Smith was killed in April in a shooting that was sparked over a traffic altercation.

Norman said investigators have Gasser in custody and he's being questioned, along with a number of witnesses. Col. John Fortunato, a sheriff's office spokesman, said they anticipate charging Gasser, but with what has not yet been determined.


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