Albany, Bahamas 04 December 2019: On a windswept Wednesday at the Albany Golf Resort, it was a rough scramble for the players as they worked extra hard to impose themselves on the sandy course. The par-3 second (Average score – 3.56) and the par-5 ninth (5.33) were playing tougher than the rest, together extracting nearly a shot from the field. Gary Woodland made two hat-tricks, making three birdies in a row on both sides of his trek to take charge of a volatile leaderboard.
Tiger Woods was enduring a patchy day, conceding a bogey at the third before recovering the stroke with a birdie at the sixth. But his joy was shortlived as he gave away strokes at the eighth and ninth, slipping to two over par.
Woods recovered a stroke with a birdie at the eleventh, but he was leaving himself plenty of work for the rest of the week. The average winning score at Albany has been around 268, meaning that Woods will need a low round on Friday to ensure that he does not leave it too late in an effort to capture his fifth Hero World Challenge and a first at the Albany course.
The newly muscular Bryson DeChambeau got off to a patchy start too. He suffered a double bogey at the second and added bogeys at the fourth and ninth. But he also made two birdies on the front nine, before pinching a stroke off the easiest hole of the round, the par-5 eleventh.
After starting the day with a bogey at the second, Jon Rahm, the defending champion, played some impeccable golf. Birdies at the 4th, 6th, 10th & 11th helped the Spaniard plant himself in a tie for second with Kevin Kisner, Bubba Watson and Justin Thomas.
Thomas was playing alongside Woods. He shot four birdies in six holes to move up to 3-under and join Rahm, Kisner and Watson.
Justin Rose, playing within a slingshot of his home in the Bahamas, was two-under through 15 holes with four bogeys and six birdies in an action packed first round. The Brit made consecutive birdies at the sixth and seventh. But the highlight of the round was perhaps a run of four birdies from the 11th hole, interrupted by a bogey at the 13th hole.