NASSAU, Bahamas — The return of Tiger Woods was more about the big picture than any of his big numbers.

And that started with the sight of that red shirt Sunday.

Woods grumbled about three more double bogeys in the final round of the Hero World Challenge. Considering how badly he’s felt in the 15 months since he last played, he still was able to keep it in perspective.

“It feels good to be back out here playing again, competing and trying to beat the best players in the world,” Woods said. “I missed it. I love it.”

He even loved some of his golf.

Woods made 24 birdies, the most of anyone this week. He also had six double bogeys, three in the final round. The last one on the final hole, his third of the week on the 18th, gave him a 4-over 76. It was the highest score of the tournament and he finished 15th in the 17-man field.

The other players weren’t about to measure him by his score – not yet, anyway.

“The whole world is watching a couple of rounds of golf,” said the British Open champion, Henrik Stenson, who finished second to Hideki Matsuyama. “It’s great to see him back and healthy, and playing. I want to see him up in contention and try to beat him when it matters the most.

“Give him three or four tournaments, maybe six tournaments, maybe around the Masters. It’s easy to overanalyze a very limited amount of golf.”

Woods, the dominant player of his generation, had gone 466 days since his previous tournament because of two back surgeries. The recovery at times made it difficult for him to walk and led him to wonder if he ever would play.

“Getting back to this point is beyond anything that I’ve ever experienced in my lifetime,” said Woods, who turns 41 at the end of the month.

“The pain issues that I had, it was rough. Quite frankly, there some pretty dire times where I just couldn’t move.”

Woods showed no stress in his swing or in walking five rounds, starting with the pro-am. He had plenty of length, at times going after his driver with a little more pop to clear a bunker. He holed a few long putts. He missed a few short ones. At times he looked like he had never been away that long. At times it did.

“It’s kind of new to me again, the feel of playing, the feel of adrenaline in my system, hitting shots,” Woods said.

Woods starts his climb from No. 898 in the world, the product of not playing since Aug. 23, 2015. He said he wants to play a full schedule in 2017.

“I need to play more tournaments. Zero in 15 months is not a lot, so this is one,” Woods said. “I thought I made some good, positive things happen this week. Made a lot of birdies, also made a lot of mistakes. That’s something I know I can clean up.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.