Albany (Bahamas): Tiger Woods proved he could be competitive again after playing some of the best golf of his comeback with a final round four-under 68 to tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge tournament here, Sunday.
No one could match Rickie Fowler, though. The World No.9 birdied his first seven holes and won the elite event by four strokes thanks to a course record 11-under par 61 that left him at 18-under 270.
Woods was 10 strokes back but he had plenty of smiles as he answered the question of how he would do in his first tournament in nearly 10 months following spinal fusion surgery.
Pain-free, the former World No.1 struck for six birdies and an eagle at the Albany course before two closing bogeys. Had those two bogeys not happened, he would have been vying for tied fifth position.
“I showed some good signs,” Woods told ‘NBC Sports’ after finishing the four days at eight-under 280. “I hit some really good shots out there (and am ready for) a bright future…. and no pain.”
The latter (pain) was especially important to the 41-year-old who once dominated the sport. “I’ve had some tough times through the years with my back and then finally to come out on the good side and (be) able to get back out there and play. It’s pretty cool,” Woods informed.
Fowler was looking at a seven-stroke deficit when he began his round but seven straight birdies and another at the ninth put him in front at the turn, which he made in eight-under 28. There was no looking back after that.