LOS ANGELES — Tiger Woods was far from consistent this week.
Of course, he had several incredible golf courses. He even posted a 4-under 67 on Saturday for his best lap since his car accident two years ago. But he couldn’t go more than one lap together, and Sunday was a perfect example of that.
Woods finished the Genesis Invitational with a final round 73, which dropped him to 1 under for the week. He made five bogeys in the day and often struggled around the greens, especially with his putter, which he complained about all week.
But in the grand scheme of things, Woods was happy to step off the green at Riviera Country Club on Sunday afternoon – and he should be. He finished a full tournament, his first in seven months, under par. He looked more and more comfortable as the week went on.
And while he’s a long way from winning, a return to a somewhat regular golf routine that can live up to Woods’ high standards looks very possible in the months ahead.
“It was progress, but obviously I didn’t win,” Woods said. “My (winless) streak continues here at Riv. I felt like the first few days I definitely left a lot of shots with a few putts, especially on Friday when I was blocking everything. Yesterday was better. I would have always liked to be able to get closer to the leaders, but today they are running away with this… I think it’s a good victory in every way.
What’s next for Tiger Woods?
Woods will now return from Los Angeles, needing time to recover. The 47-year-old was in visible pain after completing 72 holes in four days, something he has rarely done in the past two years.
Although he does everything he can to prepare for running a tournament, he can’t do much on his own.
“It was definitely a little harder than I let on,” Woods said. “My team has been fantastic in recovering my body day by day and preparing me to play every day.
“That’s the hardest part that I can’t fake at home. Even though I played four days at home, it’s not the same as adrenaline, it’s not the same as the system ramped up like that, the intensity, just the focus that it takes to play at this level. I’m very good at faking it at home, but it’s just not the same as being here and doing it.
He hasn’t ruled out playing sooner, but Woods has said for months that his goal is just to play in all four majors, “and maybe a few more.” That would leave the Masters in April as his likely next step.
If he were to do it again before Augusta National, it would likely be at the Players Championship, although the timing could be tight. There are only two tournaments until then in early March, which doesn’t give him too much time to recover. This process between rounds has been grueling and icy, he said, and it will take him at least several days to reset properly.
“I lay in the ice for most of the night. It’s not fun, it’s really cold all the time,” Woods said. “And then a treatment, then activate the muscles and go back and jump in the cold again. The ebb and flow of that is hard. It’s tough mentally, it’s tough physically.
But just being on the course even with all the extra work his body needs to get there is something Woods has missed.
The care is worth it.
“Being here competing is different. I miss the fellowship of guys,” Woods said. “Because I haven’t played a lot in the last few years, there’s a lot of turnover. … There’s a lot of new faces here that will be the future of our tour that I’ve had the chance to see and play with. It’s nice to see the turnover. It’s nice to see the guys who are playing the best right now. You look at what Rahmbo (Jon Rahm) has done, what Max (Homa) has done this year, seeing them rise on a golf course like this, that’s what it’s all about.
If he’s able to stay healthy and be ready to compete at TPC Sawgrass for The Players, the consistency could be huge for his game in April. Having to get back into the competitive rhythm on the Tour was something Woods admittedly struggled with.
But everything will depend on his health, and that is unlikely to change for the rest of his playing career. It’s his future now, and he’s okay with that. After all he’s accomplished, he doesn’t need to insist.
“My back as it is, all the surgeries I’ve had on my back, my leg as it is, I just can’t (try to play much more than the majors),” he said. he declares. “It’s going to be my future… I know that and I understand that. It’s just my reality.