Tiger Woods’ week in the Bahamas at the Albany Golf Club wasn’t great by any means.
Woods finished Sunday better than just two people in the 20-man field and failed to break 70 at the tournament he hosts each year.
But Woods finished the tournament, all four rounds. By all accounts, that’s a win.
“I haven’t done it in a while,” Woods said after posting a final-round 72 on Sunday. “I haven’t done it with my ankle the way it is now and I was excited each and every day to kind of get through it and kind of start piecing rounds together again. I haven’t done this in a long time, so it was fun to feel that again.”
Woods hadn’t played in a tournament since he withdrew from the Masters in April, which led to fusion surgery on his ankle. He has played only four rounds at a major championship just once since 2020 while dealing with multiple injuries, including a car crash that nearly cost him his leg.
But this week was the perfect spot for him to return. The 20-man field doesn’t have a cut and is played at on a flat course. The tournament, not an official stop on Tour, was relatively easy and stress-free.
Despite some flashes, Woods largely struggled. He opened with a 3-over 75 on Thursday, and said he was “rusty” after his round “went sideways at the end.”
Slowly, it got better. Woods responded with a 2-under 70 on Friday, and then added a stroke each day until his even-par finish on Sunday. He carded a double-bogey on the second hole on Sunday after missing the green and chunking a chip, but he quickly responded with three birdies over the next four holes. He made five birdies on the day, which were offset by three bogeys and that double for his even par.
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Only Wyndham Clark, at 2-over, and Will Zalatoris, who posted an 11-over in his return from a back injury, finished worse than Woods at Albany. Scottie Scheffler won the tournament at 20-under, three strokes better than Sepp Straka. Justin Thomas finished in third at 16-under.
“I think the best part of the week is the way I drove it,” Woods said. “I drove it on pretty much a string all week. Granted, these fairways are big. I felt like I had my ball speed up, which was nice, and I was hitting the middle of the face the entire week, which is nice. So it's not like I have to go and try and find something the next few weeks or something going into next year. What I've been working on is right there and maybe just tighten up a little bit.”
Woods will now turn to the PNC Championship, the two-day, parent-child event that he’ll play with his son, Charlie. The duo has competed there several times, and Charlie can do most of the heavy lifting in Orlando.
Woods, who turns 48 later this month, plans to return to a semi-regular playing schedule next year. The goal, he said going into the week, is to play about one tournament a month. That would include all four major championships, the Genesis Invitational in February, the Players Championship and a few others, depending on how it goes physically for him.
Obviously, things can change very quickly. Keeping him in a spot to play on Tour like this is, admittedly, incredibly difficult.
“I still have to go through the same protocols. It takes a long time,” he said. “That’s the unfortunate thing about aging and trying to do something that either I’ve worn out my body or trying to keep up with the younger people, it takes a long time pre and post. You spend more time in the treatment room and weight room than you do on a golf course.”
Woods’ planned schedule, as light as it is, may seem ambitious. But Woods says he can get there. Perhaps most notably, Woods said as much right after walking off a course having completed 72 holes.
“I think I can get into the rhythm of it,” Woods said. “I think that having a couple of weeks off to recover, a week to build up, there’s no reason why I can’t get into that rhythm. It’s just a matter of getting in better shape basically.
“I feel like my game’s not that far off, but I need to get in better shape.”