Par saves keep Woods in World Challenge hunt

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THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Tiger Woods finished his World Challenge pro-am round on Wednesday, then embarked on a practice-range session that was so good it had him still smiling one day later.

“I had it last night when I was hitting golf balls,” he said. “That was nice.”

What wasn’t so nice for Woods is that his Wednesday night practice didn’t translate to his opening round on Thursday, a round of which he assessed his performance as “a little off.”

It should serve as a terrific reason for optimism that even a round described with those words was amongst the better ones of the day, a 2-under 70 that left him in a share of fifth place, just three shots behind leader Nick Watney.

“I didn't hit the ball very good today and made a few good par putts to keep the round going,” Woods said. “I kept myself in the tournament. Could have easily shot myself out of the tournament, but I kept myself in it.”

Though he denied there was any competitive rust on his game after taking four weeks off from tournament golf, Woods did reveal that he hadn’t been playing much golf prior to getting to Sherwood Country Club on Monday.

“I didn't touch the clubs for probably a full week, maybe a little bit more, and then gradually started to get back in with putting, chipping, pitching, and worked my way all the way back up to the driver and started playing again,” he added. “That was over the course of the past week.”

The defending champion at this event, Woods will play in the 1:33 p.m. ET pairing alongside Bo Van Pelt on Friday.