Woods ends strong at Hero tournament

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It's a similar position to where Woods finished 2016 (No. 652) in the OWGR.

That never put him within striking distance of Fowler, who produced a remarkable course-record 61 on the par-72 Albany Golf Club layout.

Fowler sprinkled 11 birdies - including seven straight from Nos. Fowler, ranked No. 9 in the world, had trailed 54-hole leader Charley Hoffman by seven strokes entering the day.

Tommy Fleetwood and Jordan Spieth finished in a tie for third place on 12 under. Perhaps most importantly, Woods didn't experience any back pain throughout the four rounds, and since there isn't a Tour event until January 4, Woods will have plenty of time to gear back up for his second tournament of 2017-18.

The 41-year-old did not hold back as he completed an encouraging comeback without showing any signs of being in pain after undergoing a fourth back operation in April. "He played beautifully over the first two days, and although he didn't have his best day in the third round, the course was playing very hard. I just ended up in bad spots after good shots".

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Woods's impressive display off the tee included a monster drive at the par-four seventh that led to his eagle.

But his chipping was mediocre, and he did finish only mid-pack, so let's not expect miracles in 2018 from a man almost 10 years removed from his most recent major championship victory, and four-plus years from any victory.

"The issue was how my scoring was going to be, how was my feel?"

If that was the highlight of Woods' return to tournament golf after a 10-month layoff, the takeaway was that he appears healthy and ready to compete with the game's elite players in the next year. "Nobody was sure how far he'd hit his iron shots, but I think he's done pretty well with that too".

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