Friday, August 17, 2018

Tiger completes healthy week

NASSAU, Bahamas — The return of Tiger Woods was more about the big picture than any of his big numbers. And that started with the sight of that red shirt on Sunday.

Woods grumbled about three more double bogeys in the final round of the Hero World Challenge. Considering how badly he has felt in the 15 months since he last played, he still was able to keep it in perspective.

"It feels good to be back out here playing again, competing and trying to beat the best players in the world," Woods said. "I missed it. I love it."

He even loved some of his golf at Albany Golf Course.

Woods made 24 birdies, the most of anyone over the four days. He also had six double bogeys. The last one, on the final hole — his third double bogey of the week on the 18th — gave him 4-over 76. It was the highest score of the event, and he finished 15th in the 17-man field at 4-under 284.

Hideki Matsuyama held off Henrik Stenson to win by two shots. Matsuyama, who started the final round with a seven-shot lead, closed with 1-over 73 for 18-under 270. Stenson (68) three-putted the 15th for par but couldn't apply any more pressure, closing at 16-under 272.

"Starting next week, all my focus and preparation will be for the Masters," Matsuyama said.

The players were not about to measure Woods by his score.

"The whole world is watching a couple of rounds of golf," Stenson said of Woods' return. "It's great to see him back and healthy and playing. I want to see him up in contention and try to beat him when it matters the most.''

"What he did here showed that he's certainly up for the task and his game is there. He's ready to go," Jordan Spieth (70, 11 under total) said. "Even with Tiger, every time we set expectations, he exceeds them."

Woods had gone 466 days since his previous tournament because of two back surgeries. The recovery led him to wonder if he would ever play again.

"Getting back to this point is beyond anything that I've ever experienced in my lifetime," said Woods, who turns 41 at the end of the month. "The pain issues that I had, it was rough. Quite frankly, there were some pretty dire times where I just couldn't move."