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Tiger Woods completes return with strong finish at Hero World Challenge

By The Sports Xchange
Tiger Woods, Captain's Assistant of United States watches the action on the ninth hole on day two of the Presidents Cup on September 29, 2017 at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey. File photo by Rich Schultz/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/23b4ea3a8a2654fbe5dfb7f1bcfbf92e/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Tiger Woods, Captain's Assistant of United States watches the action on the ninth hole on day two of the Presidents Cup on September 29, 2017 at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey. File photo by Rich Schultz/UPI | License Photo

More than two years had passed since Tiger Woods completed his last tournament on a golf course before Sunday.

Woods, playing competitively for the first time since last February in Dubai, carded a final-round 4-under-par 68 to finish tied for ninth place at 8-under 280 in the Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Club in New Province, The Bahamas.

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Rickie Fowler closed with a blistering 61 to finish at 18-under 270 for the weekend to claim the Hero World Challenge title. Fowler, ranked No. 9 in the world, had trailed 54-hole leader Charley Hoffman by seven strokes entering the day.

Woods, the former longtime world No. 1 and 14-time major champion, had not officially logged four competitive rounds since the Wyndham Championship on Aug. 20-23, 2015.

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"I think I competed well," Woods told ESPN after logging his third sub-par round of the weekend. "I really drove the ball a lot better than I was thinking, especially the distance-wise."

Woods eagled the par-4, 350-yard seventh hole and mixed six birdies with two bogeys and a double bogey in his closing round. He opened the event with a 69 and went on to cap his weekend at 68-75-68.

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"Man, I hit a lot of good long irons and fairway woods from the fairway, and for the majority of the week I really putted well," Woods said. "... I hit just a boatload of good putts."

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As far as his next tournament is concerned, Woods has not yet made a public commitment. He told reporters he experienced "no pain" over the weekend and believes he still has a "bright future" on the course.

Woods underwent a fourth back surgery last April and made headlines when he was arrested near his Jupiter, Fla. home for driving under the influence. Toxicology reports revealed a plethora of prescription drugs in his system at the time of the arrest, including pain killers.

Fowler sprinkled 11 birdies -- including seven straight from Nos. 1-7 -- in his bogey-free round, leading him to victory in the 18-player field.

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Hoffman closed with a 72 to finish second at 274. England's Tommy Fleetwood (276), world No. 2 Jordan Spieth (276) and world No. 5 Hideki Matsuyama of Japan (277), Patrick Reed (277) and Olympic champion and world No. 6 Justin Rose of England (277) rounded out the top five.

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World No. 1 Dustin Johnson finished in a tie for 14th at 288 after a final-round 72. FedExCup champion and world No. 3 Justin Thomas finished in solo 11th at 281.

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