Tiger Woods completes comeback event
Finishes 14 shots adrift of winner
Speaks of the pain of his back injury
Hideki Matsuyama wins tournament
A smile has been returned to the face of Tiger Woods – despite finishing 14 shots behind the winner in his comeback event.
Woods, who has dropped to number 898th in the world rankings in his prolonged absence from the game he once dominated, closed Sunday with a four-over par 76 in the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.
It completed a mixed four days, the highlight a second round 65, which briefly raised hopes of an unlikely victory in the invitation event sanctioned by the PGA Tour.
That went to Japan’s in-form Hideki Matsuyama, who withstood some last day pressure from British Open champion Henrik Stenson to win on 18-under-par.
Woods was returning to competitive action after 466 days, with many having already written his golf obituary, and he admitted his battle against a chronic back problem had been tough.
“It tested me beyond the anything I had experienced in my life,” he said after completing his final round in Albany.
“There have been some pretty dire times when I could not even move – those are scary times,” he added.
With a remodeled swing to protect his back, Woods showed glimpses of the form which has taken him to 14 major titles, but the last in 2008.
It helped him to 24 birdies over the four rounds – the best tally from the field – but also a string of double bogeys, the last on the 470-yard 18th.
It was the third time he had recorded the same score on the tough closing hole over the four days, the six shots dropped proving costly.
“I made some birdies which was nice, I played aggressively but I also made some bad mistakes,” he admitted.
It left him on four-under-par, 15th in an 18-man select field, which included three of this year’s four major tournament winners and former world number one Jordan Spieth.
Stenson, who won the British Open and the Race to Dubai on the European Tour, steadily made inroads into Matsuyama’s seven-shot overnight lead and had cut it to just two shots playing the final two holes.
But Matsuyama steadied the ship to maintain his advantage and finish 2016 on a high, his fourth win in five outings.