Tiger Woods capped his return to competition with a fine four-under-par 68 on Sunday in the final round of the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.
The 14-time major champion, who once wondered if nagging back trouble would spell the end of his career, had an eagle and six birdies on the par-72 Albany Golf Club course to finish 72 holes on eight-under-par 280.
Even a front-nine 31 didn’t put him within striking distance of the lead, with Rickie Fowler burning up the course.
Woods was in solo 10th when he walked off 18, with Fowler 10-under for the day through 13 and showing no signs of letting up after birdies at eight of the first nine holes and two more on the back nine.
A back-nine double-bogey and two bogeys to finish took some wind out of Woods’ sails, but the 41-year-old superstar, playing for the first time since February after yet another back surgery in April, found plenty to be encouraged about.
Most importantly, he said, he played all week without pain.
“Overall, I’m very pleased. I showed some good signs,” he said, adding that they pointed toward “a bright future”.
Woods’ impressive display off the tee included a monster drive at the par-four seventh that led to his eagle.
That was just one of the shots that delighted an enthusiastic gallery following the former world number one that included Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal.
“I knew I was going to be able to play all four rounds, that wasn’t going to be an issue,” said Woods, who also missed all of the 2015-16 season with back trouble.
“The issue was how my scoring was going to be, how was my feel? How am I going to get used to the adrenaline in my system, because it’s the first time in a while.
“That took a little bit of time,” added Woods, who finished the week with rounds of 69, 68, 75 and 68.
“I was still scratchy with my irons,” he said. “I drove it pretty good all week, made some good putts.”