Tiger Woods showed signs of resiliency Sunday but just didn’t have the stamina to make another run.
After dazzling the crowd Saturday and jumping 32 spots up the leaderboard, the 15-time major champion closed out his successful return to PGA Tour action with a disappointing 2-over 73 in the final round of the 2023 Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club near Los Angeles. Woods, who has hosted the tournament since 2017, walked off the course at 1 under, tied for 45th place.
“It was progress, but obviously I didn’t win. My streak continues here at Riv,” said Woods, who remains winless over 14 appearances at the famed club where he made his PGA Tour debut. “I felt like the first couple days I left certainly a lot of shots out there with some putts, especially Friday when I was blocking everything. Yesterday was better. Still wish I could have gotten within a touch of the leaders, but today they’re running away with it.”
Woods truly believed he could win, but simply teeing it up in a designated PGA Tour event, whose field featured 40 of the world’s top 50 players, was impressive enough. Not only did he play, Woods made the cut and competed on the weekend. He just ran out of gas on his way to the finish line.
Woods began the final round with a birdie on his opening hole and proceeded to save a few pars before the wheels slowly started to fall off. From the fairway on No. 5 he missed the green short and left, chipped on and then missed his 4-footer for par. He added two more bogeys on Nos. 8 and 9 after both drives found fairway bunkers, leading to failed attempts to scramble for par.
A flubbed chip led to another bad bogey on No. 12, but Woods was able to bounce back this time with a 30-footer for birdie from the fringe on the following hole. After his fifth bogey of the round on the No. 15, Woods threw a dart to the par-3 16th green to respond yet again with birdie.
His ball speed, distance off the tee and accuracy percentages were all lower Sunday than in the previous three rounds, proof of the toll that 72 holes of golf has taken on his still-recovering body. But we’ve seen this before in previous comebacks.
“Even if I played four days at home, it’s not the same as adrenaline, it’s not the same as the system being ramped up like that, the intensity, just the focus that it takes to play at this level,” Woods said of his preparation to return to competition. “No matter how much – I’m very good at simulating that at home, but it’s just not the same as being out here and doing it.
“To be out here competitively is different. I miss the fraternity of the guys. Because I haven’t played a lot in the last few years, there’s a tremendous amount of turnover. I look at the Champions tour leaderboard, those are all the guys I know. There’s a lot of new faces out here that are going to be the future of our Tour that I got a chance to see and play with. It’s neat to see the turnover. It’s neat to see the guys who are playing the best right now.”
What we learned from Woods’ latest return to PGA Tour action was the 82-time winner still has the will to compete, and at 47 years old, after countless surgeries and operations, his game can still stack up with the best.
The only question is for how long?
Source: USA Today