TIGER Woods made an encouraging start to his latest eagerly anticipated injury comeback in the first round of the Hero World Challenge.

Woods has started just three events since August 2015 and withdrew from his most recent tournament in February in Dubai after an opening 77.

The 14-time major winner then had spinal fusion surgery in April, his fourth back operation in the space of three years but, for the second year in succession, has returned to action in the Bahamas.

Woods is currently ranked 1199th and began the week a 40/1 outsider in the 18-man field, which is not an official PGA Tour event but does carry significant world ranking points.

And those odds were beginning to look somewhat generous as Woods negotiated the front nine at Albany in one under par to lie three off the pace being set by European No 1 Tommy Fleetwood.

Making the 10th comeback of his career, Woods needed a fortunate bounce to keep his opening tee shot on the fairway before pitching to 12 feet and narrowly missing a birdie.

A birdie chance from similar range went begging on the par-three second, but he moved into red figures in style on the par-five third, drilling from 260 yards on to the green and two-putting from 45 feet.

After 300 days without a competitive round it was no surprise to see rustiness in a duffed chip from short of the fourth green, but Woods holed from 15 feet for par and celebrated with a fist-pump.

Three more pars followed before he holed from 25 feet for birdie on the eighth, although another duffed chip on the par-five ninth led to a first bogey of the day.

Fleetwood had covered the front nine in 32 to lead by a shot from a group which included playing partner Justin Rose, world No 1 Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth.