• Woods claim partly overshadows Fowler’s Hero World Challenge triumph • Sky on verge of securing new Masters deal after fending off BT Even Rickie Fowler’s stunning closing round of 61, which claimed the Hero World Challenge by four shots, was not enough to switch the narrative. Even Tiger Woods’s Sunday 68, meaning three sub-70 rounds out of four, failed to be as significant as what came later.
Woods, in the immediate aftermath of his first completed tournament in 12 months, declared his intention to play regularly in 2018. He even, tantalisingly, touched upon his desire to add to a majors haul which currently sits – and seemed destined to close – at 14. Tiger’s back?
“I don’t know what my schedule’s going to be but my expectations are we’ll be playing next year,” Woods said. “How many, where, I don’t know yet, but we’ll figure it out.
“We’re going to figure out what’s the best way for me to build my schedule for the major championships. Play, how much, what my training cycles are going to be, and play enough but don’t play too much. I don’t know what golf courses I’ll be playing and what’s the best way to go about it. We’ll sit down with the whole team and we’ll figure it out – where I’m going to start, how much I’m going to play, rest periods, training cycles, the whole nine yards.”
Woods reacted impressively from a third round of 75. He reached the Sunday turn in 31 for the second time in this event, as assisted by an eagle at the 7th. He double-bogeyed the 10th – his only such score all week – before going on to produce birdies at 11, 14 and 15. Even back-to-back bogeys to finish could not douse Woods’s upbeat mood.
Somehow, this comeback feels different. Woods’s aggregate of eight under par saw him defeat Justin Thomas, the US PGA champion, the world No1 Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka, who holds the US Open. Crucially, Woods did not display physical impairment during any point in the tournament.
Tiger Woods pulls one out of the hat after finding old magic in Bahamas
“It was a very good week,” he added. “I’m excited. This is the way I’ve been playing at home and when I came out here and played, I was playing very similar. I wasn’t quite hitting it as far at home but I had the adrenaline going here. Overall I’m very pleased.”
Fowler had started day four at seven under, the same number adrift of Charley Hoffman. A stunning run of seven birdies in as many holes from the 1st catapulted the Californian up the leaderboard. Conditions were at their most favourable of the four days, with 15 of the 18-man field under par, but Fowler’s charge still provided an extraordinary end to this golfing year. This marked his lowest round as a professional, with the winning total identical to 2016 at 18 under par. Woods, who knows a bit about this kind of thing, hailed Fowler’s showing as “phenomenal”.
Fowler said: “I took five weeks off after the Presidents Cup so I was coming here really trying to rely on my year. It was nice for my game to hang around.
“Hopefully this leads to something special in 2018. I can’t put myself this far back going into last rounds, 61s don’t pop up all the time. There are areas that can still get better to help me on the weekends to step up and make things happen.”
Hoffman, who started the final round holding a five-shot lead, finished two clear in second courtesy of a 72. Tommy Fleetwood will be married in the Bahamas ; he heads to the altar in fine fettle after a 67 for a share of third alongside Jordan Spieth. Justin Rose’s 70 meant a share of fifth.