Tiger Woods shoots even par in final round of Hero World Challenge: What his future in golf looks like

Tiger Woods shoots even par in final round of Hero World Challenge: What his future in golf looks like

NASSAU, Bahamas — Tiger Woods once again bounced back from an early double bogey to shoot even par in the final round of the Hero World Challenge on Sunday, finishing his 20-man tournament in 18th place. It was his first tournament in seven months.

Like much of the field, Woods continued to struggle with his short game as his uphill chip on No. 2 rolled back down to his feet to set up a double bogey. But Woods followed that up with an easy birdie on the par-5 No. 3, a 34-foot birdie putt on No. 5 and another par-5 birdie on No. 6 to get back on the right foot.

All three of Woods’ bogeys included chips that failed to reach the green, something Woods has attributed all week to being an area that comes with reps and practice. This tournament was Woods’ first time playing 18 holes in any capacity since his subtalar fusion surgery on his right ankle after withdrawing from the 2023 Masters.

Overall, Woods has said he’s “excited” with how his body has held up through 72 holes, saying his ankle is not in pain and that he’ll always have to deal with knee and back pain but that it’s something he can manage. He’s moved far more fluidly than he did in his 2022 and 2023 performances after the 2021 car crash left him with serious leg injuries and trouble walking.

Woods also drove the ball well all week, gaining more than three strokes off the tee compared to the field (per Shotlink data), and he hit multiple putts as long as 34 and 48 feet. His issues primarily came with inconsistent iron play and the aforementioned short game issues.

  WATCH: When Tiger Woods Notoriously Destroyed Charles Barkley By Replicating His ‘Speech Impediment’ Golf Swing

How would you grade Woods’ overall week?

In a broad sense, Woods looked like a pretty solid PGA Tour player who will likely improve drastically with more playing time. It must be remembered Woods said he hadn’t played a single full round since his surgery, just playing occasional holes and hitting balls at the range. That’s more than you could have asked for entering this week. No, he can’t shape shots the same way because of physical limitations, and yes he has a much harder time in tough bunker lies, but he can still strike the ball as well as most golfers on tour. The rest can be attributed to obvious rust. The other thing is he got better. The first two days, Woods severely fell off the final five holes. Sunday, he played the back 9 even par and finished with some of his better shots of the day.

What this means for Woods going forward

After Saturday’s round, Woods said, “I’m very excited how the week’s turned out,” showing strong optimism that he thinks his body can hold up over 72 holes in a way it hasn’t since before the 2021 crash. Should we expect him to go win tournaments? Probably not, but we can come out of the Bahamas believing Woods’ comments from Tuesday that he’d like to play the Genesis, the Players and the four majors next year. Maybe there will be hiccups, but at a baseline level it appears Woods is in better physical shape to keep playing golf going forward.

Required reading

  • Tiger Woods changed professional golf. Now he’s trying to save it
  • Tiger Woods hopes to play 1 tournament per month in 2024, weighs in on PGA, PIF deadline

(Photo: Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images)