LOS ANGELES — Playing in his first official PGA Tour event in more than seven months, Tiger Woods seemed to run out of gas in the final round of the Genesis Invitational on Sunday.
After electrifying fans at the Riviera Country Club with a 4-under 67 in the third round, Woods looked sluggish and tired in the final one. He had a birdie on the first hole and two more on the back nine but had five bogeys and otherwise struggled to get anything going. He carded a 2-over 73 in the round to finish at 1 under. He was tied for 45th place when he walked off the 18th green.
Woods, wearing a traditional red shirt, raised his putter and acknowledged fans before walking up the stairs to the scoring tent.
“It was progress, but obviously I didn’t win,” Woods said. “My streak continues here at Riv. No, I felt like the first couple days I left certainly a lot of shots out there with some putts, especially Friday when I was blocking everything. Yesterday was better. Still wish I could have gotten within a touch of the leaders, but today they’re running away with it.”
Woods, 47, was playing in his first official PGA Tour event since he missed the cut at the 150th Open at St. Andrews in July. It was the first time he played 72 holes since he finished 47th at the Masters in April, which was his first start in an official event since he was seriously injured in a car wreck outside Los Angeles in February 2021.
After routinely blasting his tee shots past playing partners Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas in the first two rounds and hitting even farther in the third, Woods didn’t have nearly as much power or club speed Sunday. Woods averaged 302.1 yards off the tee through the first three rounds, which ranked among the top 15 in the field. He averaged 285.3 yards on Sunday while hitting eight of 14 fairways.
Despite the disappointing finish, Woods’ performance was a step forward for the 15-time major champion. His surgically repaired right leg, ankle and foot seemed to hold up from the stress of playing 72 holes in competition over four days. He actually played 88 holes this week; he played 16 and walked 18 in Wednesday’s pro-am.
“It certainly was a little bit more difficult than I probably let on,” Woods said. “My team has been fantastic in getting my body recovered day to day and getting me ready to play each and every day. That’s the hard part that I can’t simulate at home. Even if I played four days at home, it’s not the same as adrenaline, it’s not the same as the system being ramped up like that, the intensity, just the focus that it takes to play at this level.”
Woods said he wasn’t sure whether golf fans would see him tee it up again before the Masters, the first major championship of the season, which is scheduled for April 6-9 at Augusta National Golf Club. The Arnold Palmer Invitational, which Woods has won eight times, will be played in two weeks. The Players, the tour’s flagship event with a $25 million purse, is scheduled the week after that.
When asked about his future plans, Woods was noncommittal to playing again before the Masters.
“Here’s the deal: Like I told you guys last year, I’m not going to play any more than probably the majors and maybe a couple more,” Woods said. “That’s it, that’s all my body will allow me to do. My back the way it is, all the surgeries I had on my back, my leg the way it is, I just can’t. That’s just going to be my future.
“So, my intent last year was to play in all four majors. I got three of the four. Hopefully this year I can get all four and maybe sprinkle in a few here and there. But that’s it for the rest of my career. I know that and I understand that. That’s just my reality.”
Woods didn’t seem to have as much juice and looked stiff on his first nine holes. He carded a birdie on the first hole when he made a 14-foot putt. He made an 11-footer to get up and down from a greenside bunker and save par on the third.
But then Woods had bogeys on three of the last five holes on the front nine. He missed a 5-footer for par on No. 5. He drove his tee shot into a fairway bunker and chunked a pitch shot on No. 8. Then Woods drove his ball into another fairway bunker and couldn’t recover on No. 9. He carded a 2-over 37 on the front.
After making another bogey on the par-4 12th, Woods finally got a stroke back when he drained a 30-footer from the fringe on the par-4 13th. He 3-putted to make another bogey on the 15th. Woods made his third birdie of the round on the par-3 16th with a 6-footer.