Tiger Woods closed out his most recent return to competition on Sunday in paradise.
In his first competitive appearance since the Masters earlier this spring, the 15-time major champion entered the final round of the 2023 Hero World Challenge, an unofficial event that benefits his TGR Foundation, T-16 at even par in the 20-player field.
Woods was admittedly rusty in Thursday’s opening round at Albany in the Bahamas as he signed for an up-and-down 3-over 75 but got back under par both Friday (70) and Saturday (71). He walked off the course in 18th place after an even-par 72 on Sunday.
Check out his closing round with shot-by-shot updates below.
Best shots: Check out Tiger’s Hero highlights
For years Tiger has been adamant that no matter the procedure, he can still hit every shot necessary to compete in tournaments. The only issue was whether or not he could walk 72 holes and stay fit to swing.
Albany is a flat resort course that doesn’t make for a difficult walk and it’s so far, so good for the soon-to-be 48-year-old. I’ll be curious to see how he’s walking on the back nine. Another round under par would do wonders for his momentum heading into 2024 (where he ideally wants to play once a month) but anything near par is a positive.
Hole 1 - Par 4
Here. We. Go. (Joker voice).
Quick tee pick up as this one is launched down the fairway. He’s been swinging that driver so well all week long and he’s in the short stuff to start his day. From 133 yards out Tiger sends a wedge to the deep part of the green that features a middle pin, leaving a 40-or-so-footer for birdie to get his day started. Had a decent idea with the putt and lags it up short and left to leave a tap-in for par. Easy going first hole and we’re on to the next.
TIGER ON THE DAY: Even through 1 (Even for the tournament).
Hole 2 - Par 3
Front pin here at the first par 3 of the day and like a man with two left feet he doesn’t find the dance floor. There’s a bunker guarding the right side of the green but Tiger was even short of that. Spin zone: he’ll have plenty of green to work with to try and save par … and he didn’t use any of it. Tried to use a long iron to hit a bump-and-run into the hell but he’s a casualty of his own creativity as this one failed to find the green and rolled right back to his feet.
His second stroke did find the green but checked up six feet short of the hole, leaving a testy bogey save early in the round. Misses. Double. Woof.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 2 over through 2 (2 over for the tournament).
Hole 3 - Par 5
I can’t tell if he’s managing energy in the heat or if he’s just flat-out sore because he’s moving more, shall we say, deliberately compared to the early rounds this week. Hasn’t impacted his long ball off the tee and this is another pummelled drive down the fairway. He took a good few minutes digging in his eye before taking a cut at this one and almost found the green in two. His long iron checked up just before it could climb onto the front edge.
Tiger hit a great chip to leave a kick-in for birdie to take a bite out of his early deficit, love seeing him attack par 5s again.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 over through 3 (1 over for the tournament).
Hole 4 - Par 4
Driver. Fairway. With ease. Can’t say it enough, he looks so comfortable with the driver. His approach to the back-middle pin ran a little long and trundled off the back edge of the green. From there he’ll have plenty of green to work with and should be able to hit a no-nonsense chip rather close.
Got real spinny with this effort, maybe a bit too much as his third rolled toward the cup but checked up four feet shy. He converts the par save and avoid another early blemish.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 over through 4 (1 over for the tournament).
Hole 5 - Par 3
Another par 3 and this tee shot finds the green but it’ll be another lengthy birdie effort to try and get back to even. His distance control from 30 feet and outside has been pretty solid so far this week and this one was as good as could be. His ball hit the bottom of the cup like a heat-seeking missile and the Big Cat is back to even after a bomb of a birdie.
TIGER ON THE DAY: Even through 5 (Even over for the tournament).
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) December 3, 2023
Hole 6 - Par 5
His first leaky drive of the day comes here at the par-5 6th hole. It was absolutely pounded but kicked right into the sandy area that runs alongside the fairway. He had just south of 250 yards to the green and nearly got there. His ball came to rest in some short rough in front of the green and near a bunker. Might be an awkward stance depending how much room is between his ball and the bunker, doesn’t look like much.
Wasn’t an issue at all. He got aggressive with his chip and certainly wasn’t going to leave this one short after the last few as this one runs ten feet by. You hear that? (Chirp-chirp) That’s the sound of back-to-back birdies as Tiger is now under par on the day and for the tournament.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 under through 6 (1 under for the tournament).
Hole 7 - Par 4
Short par 4 is drivable but has some trouble guarding the front of the green. Tiger avoids the sand and will need to get nifty with a pitch to keep this one close. There isn’t much green to work with so I’d imagine he’ll go slightly long here with the approach (which could leave a tricky putt).
Had great pace control with his second and did roll his ball past the cup, maybe 10 feet. Tiger got real cautious with this putt and somehow left it short. Not his best effort but he doesn’t look too upset. Birdie streak stops with par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 under through 7 (1 under for the tournament).
Hole 8 - Par 3
Tiger looks like he’s baking in that Sunday red today and has gone to the towel a few times per hole to try and stay dry. Another par 3, this one playing 217 yards, and he didn’t love his swing as soon as he made contact. It’s a back pin towards the right side and this one misses completely and stops in a collection area near a drain. The bump-and-run game hasn’t been great this week and we could be set for another one here.
Another poor effort from around the greens has Tiger perplexed. He barely gets this one to the green and now has some serious work to do to avoid a dropped stroke. That’s a good 20 feet short of the pin and his ball is barely clinging to the edge of the green. Flirted with the cup but just missed on the edge and that’s a momentum-stalling bogey he didn’t need as he prepares to close out his front nine.
TIGER ON THE DAY: Even through 8 (Even for the tournament).
Hole 9 - Par 5
Since he came back from injury the first time, a common theme for Tiger in his early appearances has been compounded mistakes. It happened constantly on Thursday and he needs to avoid doing so again today.
His distance with the driver here at the ninth was solid but he misses another fairway and got lucky to be in the rough and not a bunker. From 315 yards out Tiger takes 3 wood and runs this one down the left side of the fairway clear of the water running down the right side. He actually ran it through the fairway and will have a testy third shot from the rough that needs to clear a bunker and check up quickly if he has any chance at a closing birdie.
Well, this was just flat-out bad. Took this one high in the air and just completely blew it left. His ball ran off the back side of the green and that’s gonna leave another bump-and-run sort of shot to try and get up and down to save par now. Not much else to say here, another iffy chip got bailed out by a 14-footer to save par. Dodged a bogey bullet there.
TIGER ON THE DAY: Even through 9 (Even for the tournament).
Hole 10 - Par 4
Another missed fairway here finds the sandy area lining the short grass, this time down the left side. Fatigue may be setting in but he battled back and hit a gem onto the green, inside 20 feet. He’s still moving well but the pace is starting to slow down a bit and he even grimaced a bit climbing out of the sandy area. His putt never had a shot and was outside left the entire way. Par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: Even through 10 (Even for the tournament).
Hole 11 - Par 5
Smokeshow. This is a metro boomin’ drive 300-plus yards down the left side. He walked after this one and tried to get to the green in two but missed short and left. Still in a decent spot but given how shady his short game has been today, I wouldn’t expect much. Hate when I’m right as this is another blown chip and he was finally on with a second effort. His fourth left an eight-footer for par that missed and led to a tap-in bogey.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 over through 11 (1 over for the tournament).
Hole 12 - Par 3
Tiger puts this tee shot right where I am at a wedding: the middle of the dance floor. That’s just 15 feet for birdie, great bounce-back shot following the compounded mistake on No. 11. Good, not great effort for birdie sets up the two-putt par. He’s really starting to slow down now.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 over through 12 (1 over for the tournament).
Hole 13 - Par 4
Back in the fairway with the driver here for Tiger, needed that after some recent struggles with the big stick. Another solid swing finds the front of the green, 20 feet short of the pin. Needed that one to fall but it misses by inches. Par. On we go.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 over through 13 (1 over for the tournament).
Hole 14 - Par 4
You’ve heard of member bounces, but how about a host bounce? Tiger’s drive looked destined for the sand but somehow clung to grass and ran all the way up the side of the green and came to rest pin-high, leaving just seven feet for eagle. Went right after this one and hits the cup a bit too hard and pops out. Gave it way too much speed but still gets in for birdie. Four holes left to get under par for the weekend.
TIGER ON THE DAY: Even through 14 (Even for the tournament).
Hole 15 - Par 5
MASHED POTATOES! Smoked this one down the left side of the fairway and seems to have a little pep in his step after that drive. With 189 yards to the pin Tiger lets this one get a little loose and pushes it right. It’s a real short par 5 and he’s going to hate that he’s not on the green after the big drive, but he still has a putt for eagle. The putt took a massive hop on the transition from the fringe to the green and stops well before the cup to leave a five-footer for birdie.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 under through 15 (1 under for the tournament).
Hole 16 - Par 4
What I would give to hit a driver like Tiger Woods. 314 yards, right down the middle of the fairway. He’ll have 168 yards to the back-left pin from there. Tried to draw this one back there but left it rather straight as his approach just ran off the back edge of the green. His chips have been so poor around the green he went with the putter here and it was even worse as he hit it passed the hole and off the other side of the green. Yikes. Ran his second putt passed the other side of the cup and he’s just everywhere around this green right now. The knee-knocker from five feet finds the hole and that’s a brutal bogey after the birdie.
TIGER ON THE DAY: Even through 16 (Even for the tournament).
Hole 17 - Par 3
The 17th players 169 yards today and features a front pin guarded by a bunker directly in front. Tiger threw this one high into the air and it’s a good one, just above the hole maybe 25 feet from the hole. Good roll but like a bad Italian restaurant he didn’t properly pair the pasta with sauce. Two-putt par and it’s on to the last.
TIGER ON THE DAY: Even through 17 (Even for the tournament).
Hole 18 - Par 4
One last hole, one last fairway. Tiger his a great drive and should have a good look at the green from there to try and close this round with a birdie to get under par for the tournament. Stared down the approach and ooh boy did he like it, but the shot had too much juice for the squeeze and ran off the back edge. His chip ran close but failed to drop and left a short tap-in for par to end the event where he started at even par.
TIGER ON THE ROUND: Even-par 72 (Even for the tournament).