Tiger Woods not worried about last-place standing at Hero World Challenge

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Tiger Woods not worried about last-place standing at Hero World Challenge

PGA Tour

Tiger Woods not worried about last-place standing at Hero World Challenge

NASSAU, Bahamas – Tiger Woods hasn’t played horribly this week in the Bahamas. He’s just had a few costly lapses, and when there’s an elite field of just 18 players it leads to a bad look on the leaderboard.

Woods shot even-par 72 in Saturday’s Round 3 of the Hero World Challenge and fell to last place as a result, solo 18th at 2 under for the week.

This is Woods’ first tournament since the Ryder Cup, and the past eight weeks have been about rest and recovery more than anything. That explains why he’s not too concerned about a lackluster first three days at Albany Golf Course in the Bahamas.

“It’s definitely not alarming,” Woods said. “I just haven’t played clean. Today was probably the best I’ve felt physically this week. Finally started to get my energy back and started to feel a little bit better.”

The par-3 second is the toughest short hole on property, and Woods faced a daunting chip when his second shot rolled through the green down a bank. He pulled off a remarkable shot from there for bogey, but his troubles around the green continued at the par-5 third. Woods was just left of the green in two and made a mess of things from there, carding a double-bogey 7 to start 3 over through three holes.

Woods rallied to get back to even par by the time the round was done in a brisk 3 hours, 45 minutes. He made five birdies with two bogeys the rest of the way and drove it well for the most part, which he has all week.

A triple-bogey six at the par-3 11th undid a promising round on Thursday, and he was 5 under through 17 Friday before a double bogey and ensuing rules situation at the last.

Temperatures swelled into the low 80s Saturday, the sun beating down harder than it has all week as Woods made his way around with friend Bryson DeChambeau. It was more crowded than the first two days but still relatively empty, with great views available around nearly every tee box and green.

There have been a few groans after each of the blowup holes this week, but the up-close experience and Caribbean setting seem to trump the results of the tournament for most in attendance.

Woods again hit driver on nearly every par-4 and 5, finding 9 of 13 fairways and 13 of 18 greens. There’s been no sense of growing frustration with his game. He runs hot in the moment when mistakes lead to big numbers, but it doesn’t seem like there’s a cumulative effect.

“I got off to a great start today,” Woods joked as soon as he got to the interview area. “Yeah, just one of those days where I kept feeling like I was fighting from behind and somehow wound up with even par.”

Last year at this time Woods was just trying to dip his toes into the water and see if another comeback had legs. His T-9 finish was the first of many promising signs. But there were still so many questions leaving the Bahamas, and it took him a full season to answer the biggest of all – whether or not he could win again.

Woods’ game hasn’t provided any answers this week, but what exactly was the question again? Now that Woods is set with his equipment, practice regimen, and health for now, few unknowns remain as he readies for the 2019 season.

Woods tees off at 10:41 a.m. for Sunday’s final round with Hideki Matsuyama. Then it’s off to Royal Melbourne for an advance scouting trip in his role as U.S. Presidents Cup team captain. Woods said he won’t bring his clubs or even hit balls. Overall the game is still in a good place, even if it won’t show in the results this week.

“Last year I was in a completely different spot,” Woods said. “Completely different scenario and trying to piece together, see if I could actually play this game again. I know I can play now and I know I can win. I just have not done a very good job this week of playing clean and keeping my rounds going like I should and could have.”

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