Tiger Woods closes Hero World Challenge at even par, tied for last

It's hard to sugar-coat this, but let's try.

Tiger Woods finished in last place -- alright, tied for last place with Hunter Mahan -- in the 18-person Hero World Challenge. His final-round 72 left him at even-par 288 in his return to competitive golf.  Woods finished 26 shots behind winner Jordan Spieth, who, in fairness, won by 10 shots, which still left Woods 16 shots out of second place.

However, looking back on the entire week, it's pretty easy to see where those 16 shots were lost: inside 125 yards. And there was no place Woods' short-game struggles were on display this week than host Isleworth's par-5 13th hole.

For the third time this week, on Sunday, Woods chunked not one, but two chip shots at the tricky green complex. Woods went on to make triple-bogey 8, marring what otherwise would have been consecutive 69s on the weekend.

From tee to just shy of the green, Woods looked solid on Sunday, hitting nine of 14 fairways and hit 11 greens in regulation. For Woods, those good numbers, especially off the tee. For the week, Woods hit 71 percent of fairways and 68 percent of greens. At Woods' best, that would have been a recipe for a dominating -- or at least contending -- performance.

But it was the nine chunked chip shots and a skulled pitch shot that led to almost all 14 shots he lost to part this week. The resulting extra shots he had to hit -- sometimes, basically re-hit -- were what did him in.

Woods rightly attributed the problems to rust.

“All it is is practice,” Woods said. “I’ve just gotta work.”

In one sense, that left Woods clearly frustrated, at times embarrassed, through the week. In another, the chipping and pitching woes give Woods a clear focus for his off-season work.

“Obviously there are some things that I can do with my short game that I definitely can work on,” Woods said. “Overall, it’s so nice to be able to go out there and hit drives that hard again, take bunkers out of play, cut corners. Hadn’t felt healthy enough to do that in a very long time.” 

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.