The first step of yet another Tiger Woods comeback has been made.
The 15-time major champion made his return to competitive play this week at the 2023 Hero World Challenge and completed 72 holes for the first time since the Genesis Invitational in February. Woods shot an even-par 72 on Sunday in the final round to finish even for the tournament. He walked off the course in 18th place in the 20-player field.
“I think I’ve come a long way from being a little bit rusty to play four days and knock off a lot of rust, which was great,” Woods said after the round. “Just the physicality of actually playing, competing again, I haven’t done this in a while so it was nice to get out there with the guys and have some fun and compete and I wish I would have played a little cleaner but there’s always next time.”
After an early double-bogey on the par-3 second hole following a flubbed chip, Woods made birdie on three of his next four holes to get under par on the round and for the tournament. Bogeys on Nos. 8 and 11, both courtesy of iffy efforts around the green, stalled his momentum until Woods went back-to-back with birdies at Nos. 14 and 15 after missed eagle attempts on both holes. Similar to Thursday, a step forward was immediately followed by a step backward as more struggles around the green led to a brutal bogey on the par-4 16th. Pars on his closing two holes sealed the deal for what was a solid week.
Woods was deliberately traversing the course in the final round and notably grimaced for the first time after his second shot from the sand on No. 10. That said, slow and steady and he was able to complete the tournament without any noticeable issues. Earlier in the week Woods had said an ideal schedule would mean one tournament a month, and his performance in the Bahamas gave hope for more to come in 2024.
“Once a month seems reasonable and it gives me a couple of weeks to recover and weeks to tune up, maybe I can get into the rhythm and something like that,” he said. “That’s what the plan was going into next year.”