NASSAU, Bahamas — It was a week that wasn’t up to his standards, and perhaps somewhat surprising given all the success he had in 2018 in a comeback season that saw him win for the 80th time on the PGA Tour.
Tiger Woods ended the Hero World Challenge on Sunday by watching another birdie putt slide past the hole, and he finished well behind winner Jon Rahm, barely avoiding last place in an annual event that benefits his TGR Foundation.
But he wasn’t apologizing.
“Well, the round wasn’t very good starting out; it was quite awful,” said Woods, who played the front nine in 40 strokes before finishing with a 73. “Overall it was a long week. But this entire year has been amazing. Just been so blessed to have the opportunity.
“To come from where I came from last year at this point to have the ability to actually play and compete again in the game and do it consistently is quite amazing.”
Woods said his approach to the tournament this year — after a season of 18 events, compared to last December, when he was playing for the first time in 10 months and first time since spinal fusion surgery — was completely different.
Then, it was about determining whether he could even play again; the past week appeared more about going through the motions after the down time following a long year.
“I’m done competing, I’m done for the year,” Woods said. “It’s been quite an amazing year to go from where I’ve come from and now I can actually finally say I’m done playing for the year. We can sit back and really enjoy it.”
He might not do so for long. Woods, who turns 43 on Dec. 30, did not rule out playing the next PGA Tour event, the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which begins Jan. 3. The event for 2018 tournament winners has not been on Woods’ schedule since he last played it in 2005.
Woods won the event in Hawaii twice and never finished out of the top 10 in eight tries, but he stopped playing it despite being eligible. Now, looking at playing a limited schedule, he is weighing the possibility because it is a no-cut event in which he would earn his first FedEx Cup points of the 2019 season.
“I’m not going to play as many as I did this year,” said Woods, who played 18 official events on the PGA Tour as well as the Ryder Cup and the Hero tournament. “I played in too many this year. And that was from adding an event because I missed the cut at L.A. [Genesis Open] to qualifying to get into Akron [WGC-Bridgestone]. Who knew I could make it through all the playoff events. So all those events told a lot. I won’t be playing as much as I did last year.”
In addition to the four major championships, Woods is eligible for two World Golf Championship events for which he failed to qualify in 2018 and is expected to play at least two of the three on the schedule. Add in usual stops such as the Farmers Insurance Open, Genesis Open, Arnold Palmer Invitational, Players Championship, Wells Fargo Championship and Memorial Tournament and Woods would be up to 12 events.
If he qualifies for the three playoff events, that brings his total up to 15. He’s likely to play just one more than that.
“We’re going to sit back after I’m done with Australia [this week] and really get back into the gym and build up my body, get it stronger and get some weight on me and see where I want to start the year and see how many events that I should play,” Woods said.
Woods left the Bahamas on Sunday evening for a trip to Melbourne, Australia, part of his U.S. Presidents Cup duties that include a site visit and media promotional activities this week. One of the details to be decided is the date for his Hero World Challenge next year.
Although the schedule has not been announced, Woods said his event at Albany in the Bahamas will follow Thanksgiving as usual — which puts it the week prior to the Presidents Cup in Australia. Not only would it conflict with the Australian Open, but it will be logistically challenging for any players — and Woods — who are competing in the Bahamas to make it to Melbourne for proper preparation. There has been talk about ending the Hero event on Saturday to allow for more travel time.
Whatever is decided, Woods will return to Florida on Friday, and then will have a more immediate decision to make: playing the Sentry Tournament of Champions or not.
Despite the poor finish at Albany — Woods broke par in just one round — he dropped only one spot, to 14th in the world.
A year ago here, Woods began the Hero event ranked 1,199th in the world, tied for ninth, and steadily moved up the rankings.
“The entire year has been evolving and it’s been fluid,” Woods said. “I’m just now getting used to competing again. So I know I can do it and I know that I can win, so that part of it is very exciting.”