By Paul Myers
According to the leaderboard, the winner of the recent Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas was Hideki Matsuyama. That is, of course, accurate – Matsuyama posted an impressive performance, recording a score of -18 over four rounds, despite a final round 73. Matsuyama won by two strokes over Henrik Stenson, who closed with a 68 but ran out of time in his effort to reach the top of the board. Hideki Matsuyama has been on an impressive roll over the last few events in which he has played, and he seems poised for a breakout year in 2017.
With all of that said, there were really two winners of the Hero World Challenge in the eyes of most, as Tiger Woods recorded a solid effort in his first tournament in more than a year. Coming back from injury, most golf fans were unsure of what to expect from Woods when he teed it up in this limited-field event. Woods’ millions of fans were pleasantly surprised in the end, as he played solid golf for most of the tournament, including a 65 in the second round.
Although he finished 15th in an 18-man field when all was said and done, the victory here for Woods was the fact that he finished four rounds with no apparent signs of the injury that has kept him out for so long. There are few – if any – who doubt that Tiger Woods can still play top-level golf if he is healthy. It is the question of health that weighs heavily, however, considering how tough it has been for Woods to stay on the course in recent years. If he is healthy he will almost certainly play well, and he was healthy at least through this first event back.
An Exciting Possibility
It is yet to be seen what kind of schedule Woods will choose to play in the early part of 2017, but it is a good bet that he will appear at some of the stops that have treated him well over the years. Specifically, Torrey Pines and Bay Hill have been highly successful for Woods in the past, and it seems likely that those events will be included in his pre-Masters calendar. Of course, the idea of Tiger Woods getting healthy and being able to compete with younger starts like Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy is one that every golf fan can get behind.
With the Hero World Challenge wrapped up, the last event on the calendar for some of the world’s top golfers in 2016 is the Franklin Templeton Shootout. This is a non-official team event held at Tiburon GC in Naples, FL. From there, the action will take a break until the Tour picks back up in beautiful Hawaii for the Tournament of Champions and the Sony Open.