NEW PROVIDENCE – The BAHAMAS – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – More than two years had passed since Tiger Woods completed his last tournament on a golf course before Sunday.
Woods, playing competitively for the first time since last February in Dubai, carded a final-round 4-under-par 68 to finish tied for ninth place at 8-under 280 in the Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Club in New Province, The Bahamas.
Rickie Fowler closed with a blistering 61 to finish at 18-under 270 for the weekend to claim the Hero World Challenge title. Fowler, ranked No. 9 in the world, had trailed 54-hole leader Charley Hoffman by seven strokes entering the day.
Woods, the former longtime world No. 1 and 14-time major champion, had not officially logged four competitive rounds since the Wyndham Championship on Aug. 20-23, 2015.
“I think I competed well,” Woods told ESPN after logging his third sub-par round of the weekend. “I really drove the ball a lot better than I was thinking, especially the distance-wise.”
Woods eagled the par-4, 350-yard seventh hole and mixed six birdies with two bogeys and a double bogey in his closing round. He opened the event with a 69 and went on to cap his weekend at 68-75-68.
“Man, I hit a lot of good long irons and fairway woods from the fairway, and for the majority of the week I really putted well,” Woods said. “… I hit just a boatload of good putts.”
As far as his next tournament is concerned, Woods has not yet made a public commitment. He told reporters he experienced “no pain” over the weekend and believes he still has a “bright future” on the course.
Woods underwent a fourth back surgery last April and made headlines when he was arrested near his Jupiter, Fla. home for driving under the influence.
Toxicology reports revealed a plethora of prescription drugs in his system at the time of the arrest, including pain killers.
Fowler sprinkled 11 birdies — including seven straight from Nos. 1-7 — in his bogey-free round, leading him to victory in the 18-player field.
Hoffman closed with a 72 to finish second at 274. England’s Tommy Fleetwood (276), world No. 2 Jordan Spieth (276) and world No. 5 Hideki Matsuyama of Japan (277), Patrick Reed (277) and Olympic champion and world No. 6 Justin Rose of England (277) rounded out the top five.
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson finished in a tie for 14th at 288 after a final-round 72. FedExCup champion and world No. 3 Justin Thomas finished in solo 11th at 281