He didn’t win, but nobody can deny it anymore … Tiger Woods is BACK.
Woods failed to make birdies most of Sunday at the Valspar Championship and posted an electric one late to give himself a chance, but ultimately he fell one shot short of a forcing a playoff with Paul Casey. The 42-year-old fired a closing 1-under 70 to finish in a tie for second at 9 under.
Woods was two shots behind as he faced a twisting right-to-left 43-footer for birdie at the par-3 17th at Innisbrook’s Copperhead Course, and sent a jolt through the golfing world when he drained the putt.
The magnificent stroke kept Woods alive, but only briefly. He still needed to birdie 18 to catch Casey. But his approach fell 40 feet short and his birdie effort to tie came up short as well.
A win would’ve only been icing, though. This week proves that Woods is fully back on the comeback trail, and you can expect his 80th career PGA Tour win, and first in five years, soon.
Again, he is back.
Woods began his day with a promising birdie, one that saw a beautiful drive, an iron to 40 feet and a great lag to tap-in range at the par-5 first. That first-hole strike tied him for the lead at 9 under.
He remained co-leading on the par-3 fourth, where he made his first mistake. Woods missed the green, chipped five feet by and the ensuing par putt never hit the cup. The bogey pushed him one behind.
From there, Woods’ round stalled with 12 straight pars.
His approach game faltered as he failed to take advantage of a number of good drives, and then when he did knock an approach in birdie range, his putter went cold. Woods missed a 12-footer for birdie at the par-5 fifth, a 13-footer for birdie at the par-4 seventh and a 9-footer for birdie at the par-3 eighth – with that one particularly agonizing as he walked it in before the ball violently curled out on the left lip.
Woods was two shots behind as he lipped out a 16-footer for birdie at the par-3 13th and then couldn’t take advantage of reaching just in front of the green at the par-5 14th in two. He lagged his first putt to 10 feet and then missed the ensuing birdie putt left.
He then nearly chipped in for birdie at the par-3 15th, but his ball came up inches short of dropping in the heart.
With Woods two back and the Snake Pit awaiting, matters didn’t look good, and he indeed could not make up the ground. The par-birdie-par finish, however impressive and electrifying, left him one short.
It may not have been a win, and that is certainly disappointing, but Woods brought back an incalculable energy to the golf world this week as he contended for his first PGA Tour win in five years.
It’s been an arduous road for Woods in recent years, as he’s battled injuries, yips, general poor play and off-course issues. Remember, it was less than a year ago that Woods underwent his fourth back surgery and his future in golf was in total question.
Matters did turn, though.
By the end of 2017, the 14-time major champion was back in action. He caused a frenzy when he took the outright lead during the second round of his Hero World Challenge event before fading to a tie for ninth.
His first official PGA Tour start in a year produced more promise with a scrappy T-23 at the Farmers Insurance Open. A sloppy missed cut at the Genesis Open dampened enthusiasm, but it ramped back up with an impressive solo 12th at the Honda Classic.
And now he has this near-win, with a vintage Tiger moment at the 71st hole.
Get excited, golf world. Tiger Woods is back in full swing.