Tiger Woods will do well to forget this performance.
The 42-year-old made four birdies on his final nine Sunday at the Hero World Challenge, but it only salvaged a 1-over 73. The late run allowed him to avoid last place in the 18-man field, but just narrowly. He finished the week at 1 under and is in solo 17th in the clubhouse. His 1-under total put him one shot ahead of current last-place finisher Hideki Matsuyama.
It was a small win in a week where Woods really didn’t have any other ones.
Woods was never in contention this week at the Hero World Challenge and his played continued to be rocky on Sunday.
For the second straight day, Woods made a mess of the first three holes. It was a bogey-double bogey stretch at Nos. 2 and 3 on Saturday. The final round saw Woods bogey Nos. 1 and 3. It took Woods three attempts Saturday from around the par-5 third green to find the putting surface on his way to a double bogey. He had the exact same issue Sunday, although this time he got up and down on the third attempt for bogey.
The day would only continue to sour in the holes that immediately followed, as Woods bogeyed the par-4 seventh and actually made a good bogey at the par-5 ninth after hitting his tee shot and then his approach into the water.
Still, he was out in 4-over 40, 2 over overall and in last place by five shots.
To his credit, Woods didn’t give up despite having little to gain on the back nine. He birdied four of five holes from Nos. 11-15 to race back up to 2 under overall and even par on the day.
A ghastly three-putt bogey from 15 feet at the par-3 17th followed, but even at 1 under overall at that point he had pushed himself ahead of last place.
He made a two-putt par at the 18th, and Matsuyama had a 10-footer for birdie to make it a tie for last. When that effort slid by on the right, the Japanese star found himself alone at the bottom of the leaderboard.
The rest of the field is still on the course, but 5 under overall is currently third-to-last. So it’s very likely Matsuyama will indeed place last.
The good news for Matsuyama (and Woods) is that the man who finished last at this tournament in 2017 was Brooks Koepka, who went on to win two majors in 2018. Of course, Koepka had an excuse for his last-place finish in that at the time he was struggling with an injury that would eventually see him out of commission for months.
As we’ve noted before, this is an unofficial PGA Tour event in December. So to take a lot from this in regards to Woods would be irresponsible.
It was a poor week for Woods. If you want to get pessimistic about his 2019, you’re free to do so.
But we need to see much more than a subpar week at a tournament that doesn’t count for us to be worried about Woods’ prospects going forward.