Winning is always the goal, but given where his year started and how it ended, Tiger Woods had no complaints about his performance at the Hero World Challenge.
He broke par once and beat one player at Albany, finishing 17th on Sunday following a 1-over-par 73. Then Woods, the tournament host, presented the first-place trophy to Jon Rahm and flew to Australia for meetings about next year’s Presidents Cup, where he will captain the U.S. squad and hopes to play as well.
‘It’s been quite an amazing year to go from where I came from and now I can finally say I’m done playing for the year,’ Woods said. ‘We can sit back and really enjoy it.’
Coming off his fourth back surgery in April of 2017, he didn’t know when or if he would ever play again on the PGA Tour. Woods returned to the game last December at Hero and placed an encouraging ninth. It proved a springboard for a 2018 season that saw him capture his 80th career title at the Tour Championship in September and register seven top-10’s in 18 starts.
‘The entire year has been evolving and it’s been fluid,’ said Woods, who will be 43 later this month.
‘I’m just now getting used to competing again. So I know I can do it and I know that I can win, so that part of it is very exciting.’
Woods is still determining his 2019 schedule, which could include the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in early January. Limited to 2018 PGA Tour winners, he is a two-time champion but hasn’t played since 2005, mostly due to schedule conflicts.
Woods has committed to the Genesis Open in February, where like the Hero, proceeds benefit his TGR Foundation. He’ll also play in all four major championships and is now eligible for two World Golf Championship tournaments he couldn’t play in this year.
One thing is certain: he’ll play less.
‘I played in too many this year,’ he said. ‘Who knew I could make it through all the playoff events (FedExCup)?’
Worldwide, Woods made 19 starts this year. He’s topped that figure only once since 2006, teeing it up 22 times in 2012.
When Woods arrived at last year’s Hero World Challenge, he was No. 1,199 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Now he’s No. 14. A remarkable year indeed.
Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images