Jim Furyk Jim Furyk owns one-shot lead after first round of Target World Challenge; Woods one back

After nearly a seven-week layoff, Jim Furyk was hoping to jump start his 2008 PGA Tour season with a solid effort at this weekend's Target World Challenge.

So far, so good.

Furyk shot a 4-under-par 68 Thursday at Sherwood Country Club to take a one-stroke lead in the 72-hole event that features 16 of the world's top players playing for a $5.5 million total purse. Furyk leads a group of four players, including tournament host Tiger Woods, Zach Johnson, Henrik Stenson and Rory Sabbatini, who all shot 3-under 69 at Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Furyk said he was pleased with his first outing since the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda on Oct. 17

"I hit a bad drive off of (No. 1), but after that I really hit the ball well on the front nine, hit a bunch of greens (and) made three birdies," Furyk told reporters in his post-round press conference. "Shooting 3 under was probably a little bit better than my expectations.

"I've worked pretty hard the last few weeks to get my name in shape so it was nice to come out and knock some of the rust off, but a long week to go. Hopefully I'll keep improving and feeling more comfortable with my game."

Woods, the tournament's defending champion, appeared to be on his way to finishing atop the leaderboard in round one. However, he hit his approach shot out of bounds on the 18th hole and wound up taking a double bogey.

"It's frustrating the way it ended, no doubt, because it was a good round of golf," Woods told reporters. "The two par 5s on the back nine, I had two easy pitches and then obviously miscued 18. So it could have really realistically have been 7-under par without being all that stressed out."

Overall, Woods said he still felt fairly satisfied with his first competitive round since the Presidents Cup. He had taken more than 10 weeks off before starting to prepare for the final tournament of 2007.

"I've got a lot of work to do the next three days, but first round back, (I'm) very pleased at how consistent I was," Woods said. "I obviously have to clean up the round a little bit around the greens (and) make sure my level of pitching gets a little more sound than it was today."

Furyk said the most difficult aspect of coming off a long layoff is just regaining the ability to score.

"You go to the range and work on your swing and getting the feel back," Furyk said. "You can go and work on your chipping and putting, but just being on the golf course, picking clubs, hitting shots, that knack.

"When you take time off, the ability to get the ball in the hole is what you lose. When we come out and we say we're knocking the rust off or not comfortable, it's just playing some rounds and getting back in that frame of mind."

Padraig Harrington and Mark Calcavecchia were the only other players to shoot under par, finishing at 1-under 71. Vijay Singh, Steve Stricker, Lee Westwood, Paul Casey and Niclas Fasth all shot even-par 72.

Unlike some of the so-called "silly season" events, Furyk said the fact that the Target World Challenge is an actual 72-hole tournament can help players prep for the start of the PGA Tour season in January.

"It has more of a golf tournament feel to it," Furyk said. "Obviously it's a small field, you don't have to beat — you have to beat 15 players rather than 143, but I think it's a golf tournament.

"Who of the players ever coined the phrase 'silly season?' I don't think any of us ever came up with that. I don't think we look at stuff in that manner. We still have to work, go out there and prepare to play."

December 14, 2007

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