Woods makes strong start at Valspar

09 March 2018 04:15:05 EST

Tiger Woods outplayed three-ball partners Jordan Spieth and Henrik Stenson to sit tied eighth after the first round of the Valspar Championship in Florida.

In cold, windy conditions at the Copperhead Course, the 14-time major winner pieced together a one-under-par 70 to finish three strokes behind surprise leader Corey Conners of Canada.

That was four better than Stenson, who could only shoot a 3-over 74, while it was six clear of Spieth. The Open champion had six bogeys and just a single birdie on his card and finished the day in tied 122nd.

I think I feel like I'm pleased with every aspect of my game.

Tiger Woods

It was another tough day for Rory McIlroy as well, the Northern Irishman swallowing a double bogey and two bogeys in a 74.

Woods opened with a tap-in birdie at the first hole and despite dropping shots at 4, 9, 12 and 13, never fell over par after keeping his head above water with gains at 8, 10, 11 and 17.

Overall, the 42-year-old hit seven of the 13 fairways and nine greens in regulation.

"I enjoy when par is a good score, it's a reward," said Woods. "There are some tournaments when about four holes you don't make a birdie you feel like you're behind.

"Today, you know, made a couple birdies, all of a sudden that puts me fourth, fifth, right away. That's how hard it is. It's the reward to go out there and make a couple birdies here and there and I like that type of challenge.

"This was the hardest of all the tests because the wind was all over the place. Really brutal out there. We as a group got fooled a lot today. Into the wind it felt like you just hit walls and downwind it was you couldn't pick an angle.

"I think I feel like I'm pleased with every aspect of my game. I drove it well, I hit a lot of good iron shots today and I had some good speed on the putts. Greens are a little bit grainy and I hit a lot of good ones. Spanked a couple here and there. I thought I really did well today, overall."

Woods is 12/1 to win the Valspar Championship, with Sergio Garcia 1000/1, Justin Rose 1000/1 and Paul Casey 1/33. The latter three all shot 1-under.

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