Highlights from day four of the Hero World Challenge as Scottie Scheffler triumphed and Tiger Woods finished 18th
Tiger Woods has set his sights on an ambitious 2024 schedule after making an encouraging return to competitive action at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.
Woods, making his first start since undergoing ankle surgery after withdrawing from The Masters in April, finished level par for the week at Albany to claim 18th spot in the 20-man field.
The 47-year-old finished some 20 strokes behind world No 1 and tournament winner Scottie Scheffler, who claimed a three-stroke victory over Sepp Straka, although Woods took plenty of positives from his performance.
Tiger Woods says he’s ‘come a long way’ following his return from injury and is hoping to play one tournament a month in 2024
“I think I’ve come a long way,” Woods said after his final round. “From being a little bit rusty to playing four days and knocked off a lot of rust which was great, and just the physicality of actually playing and competing again – I haven’t done this in a while.
“It was nice to get out here with the guys, have some fun and compete. I wish I would have played a little cleaner but there’s always next time.”
How did Woods play?
Woods opened his week with a three-over 75 on Thursday, having dropped four shots in a three-hole stretch late in his round, but responded well with scores of 70, 71 and 72 over the next three days.
“Every day I got faster into the round,” Woods said. “The first day took me a while to get a handle on it, second day was faster, today [Sunday] was right away. Eventually, when I play on a regular basis, that’s normally how it is.
“I think the best part of the week is the way I drove it. 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 [need to] tighten up a little bit.”
What about Woods’ injuries?
Woods has played a limited schedule in recent seasons and has made just six official starts since suffering career-threatening leg and ankle injuries in a car crash in February 2021.
The 82-time PGA Tour winner said pre-tournament that he was pain-free in his ankle since April’s fusion surgery but felt discomfort in other areas, with Woods still taking time to physically recover from playing 18 holes.
“It’s about the same [recovering post-round], I just don’t have the bone pain that I did,” Woods said about the recovery process. “But I still have to go through the same protocols. It takes a long time.
“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. That’s just part of wanting to hang around as an athlete.”
When will we see Woods play next?
Woods will be back in action later this month at the PNC Championship, live from December 16 on Sky Sports, a 36-hole event where he will compete alongside his son Charlie for the fourth consecutive year.
Live PGA Tour Golf
December 16, 2023, 6:00pm
“It is an amazing gift to be able to share my love of golf with Charlie and we genuinely do look forward to playing in the PNC Championship all year,” Woods said last month. “Competing together, against a field of so many golfing greats and their families, is so special.”
Asked about his pre-tournament prediction that he could be able to play one event a month in 2024, Woods added: “If you ask me right now I’m a little bit sore. But once a month seems reasonable.
“It gives me a couple of weeks to recover, a week to tune up. Maybe I can get into a rhythm. That’s what the plan was going into next year and I don’t see why that would change.”
Tiger Woods revealed his plan to return to regular appearances on the PGA Tour in 2024 ahead of his Hero World Challenge comeback
How will Woods’ 2024 schedule look?
Woods’ “tournament a month” target raises the prospect of playing all four majors in a calendar year for the first time since 2019, which was when he claimed a first major victory in 11 years and 15th of his career with a one-shot win at The Masters.
We would expect to see Woods back at Augusta National from April 11-14 to chase a record-equalling sixth Green Jacket, while the PGA Championship from May 16-19 takes place at Valhalla – the venue where Woods lifted the Wanamaker Trophy in 2000 as part of the ‘Tiger Slam’.
Take a look back at highlights from Tiger Woods’ five previous wins at Augusta National
Woods has missed the past three editions of the US Open but will want to feature in this year’s contest at Pinehurst from June 13-16, with Royal Troon rounding off the major schedule when it hosts The 152nd Open from July 18-21.
The former world No 1 will likely feature on the PGA Tour before the major season, with plenty of options on where he could make his first full-field appearance since April’s ankle surgery.
Woods has won the Farmers Insurance Open (January 24-27) at Torrey Pines seven times and could use that Signature Event as his first start of 2024, while the Genesis Invitational (February 15-18) is hosted by his foundation and is where he opened his 2023 campaign.
March offers the chance to tee it up at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill (March 7-10), where he is an eight-time winner, although Woods is still exempt for The Players the following week and could play at TPC Sawgrass in the PGA Tour’s signature event.
Tiger Woods is a two-time winner of The Players, last winning the event in 2013
How Woods’ year goes will determine how his schedule looks beyond July, with the possibility of featuring in the FedExCup Playoffs should he be inside the top 70 of the season-long standings. A top 30 would be required to feature in the Tour Championship, where Woods enjoyed a memorable victory in 2018.
Are we getting carried away with expectations for Woods in 2024? Probably. But whatever happens and whenever he tees it up, the sporting world will watch on with interest.
Watch every event of the 2024 PGA Tour season and all of the majors exclusively live on Sky Sports. Stream the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour and more with NOW.