NASSAU, Bahamas – A 15-month layoff takes a toll, even when you’re Tiger Woods.
After showing flashes of brilliance throughout his much-anticipated return to competition, Woods stumbled to a 4-over 76 in the final round of the Hero World Challenge. The score left Woods alone in 15th place at 4 under for the week, 14 shots behind winner Hideki Matsuyama and ahead of only two pros in the limited-field event.
While he was able to get off to a fast start in each of the first three rounds, Woods was slow out of the gates Sunday, playing his first six holes in 3 over. His colorful scorecard included five birdies but also featured three bogeys and three double bogeys.
Woods reeled off three straight birdies on Nos. 7-9 to draw back to even for the day, but he played his next three holes in 4 over, a stretch that included a short par miss on No. 12. At one point in the middle of his round, Woods went eight straight holes without a par.
Despite the tumultuous close, Woods was optimistic when discussing his first competitive start since the 2015 Wyndham Championship.
“I think it was great to be back playing again, competing and playing against some of the best players in the world,” Woods said. “Unfortunately, I made a lot of mistakes this week. A lot of birdies, but also made a lot of mistakes.”
Woods’ 24 birdies or eagles co-led the field for the week along with Matsuyama. But Woods’ final-round miscues included doubles on Nos. 6 and 11, both par-5s, as well as the home hole, which he doubled for the third time this week after a wayward tee shot led to an unplayable lie.
“It’s kind of new to me again, the feeling of playing, the feel of adrenaline in my system, hitting shots,” Woods said. “I felt like I did some really positive things, I really did. I’m pleased about that, and I just need to clean it up.”
Where Woods goes from here remains unknown, but he expects a “full” schedule in 2017. After so many months away from the game, he views simply getting back inside the ropes against his peers to be a success.
“Big picture? It feels good. It feels good to be back out here playing again, competing and trying to beat these, the best players in the world. I missed it, I love it,” he said. “I’ve had some very, very difficult times, and have some great friends that have helped me over the times to get me to this point, and I’m just so thankful to be back here playing again.”