Tiger Woods Result: Successful return overall at the 2023 Genesis Invitational, topping 2-over-73 on Sunday

Tiger Woods crossed the finish line in Sunday’s Genesis Invitational in his first PGA Tour start since late 2020. Woods finished his week with a 2-over-73 to finish his tournament 1-under and secure a top-50 finish in the leaderboard. His 73 was the seventh-worst finals finish in the field at the time of his graduation.

Not everything was bad for Woods, however. In fact, for someone who has only done this once in all of 2022, getting through just four rounds of golf must be considered a win in some ways.

He certainly had his moments too. Three final birdies on Thursday ahead of Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy. A 67 in Round 3 on Saturday that was better than most of the top players in the world. Those were unexpected moments of joy, both for him and for the thousands who turned out to see him play at Riviera Country Club (not to mention everyone watching on TV). They were a throwback to a bygone era and a time when they wouldn’t have been quite as amazing.

Woods didn’t do anything exceptional all week, although his iron game and swing speed were both better than expected after such a long layoff (it had been seven months since he had served in a golf tournament). He finished in the top 30 of the field on the approach game and consistently hit 175-180 ball speeds off the tee with his driver (PGA Tour average is a low 170s).

More important was his sheer presence. Forests on the field gave the Genesis even more prestige than its status as one of the PGA Tour’s premier events already implied. It made Thursday feel like a Sunday, and the cutting line seemed even more important than it usually has since Woods was there.

Presence is the most important thing Woods has to offer at this point for a number of reasons. While it was surprisingly impressive that he was able to run and play all four rounds seemingly without massive problems, it’s still almost impossible for him to put in the practice work necessary to play at a consistent level that leads to real competition. Whether his health will improve and he’ll be able to put in the hours he’d like remains to be seen, although Woods himself has said that’s unlikely.

“There will come a point where my body won’t allow me (to try to win tournaments) anymore and that’s probably sooner rather than later,” he said ahead of the tournament. “But wrapping my lead around that transition and playing the ambassador role and just trying to be out here with the boys, no, that’s not in my DNA.”

So what we’re left with now, and likely in the near future, is this: various glimpses into the historically great player that he has been over the last 25 years that make you think something irrational might be happening. We got that on Thursday, and then we got it again on Saturday. These are simultaneously combined with a look at a future version of Tiger that literally has no more swings in the tank. Back and forth. down and up.

He will be a man constantly trying to balance the logistics of his body with the desires of his heart. Someone who intellectually knows what they had will never really come back because their body and mind are so tired of the hunt, but whose identity is so intertwined with their competitive nature that they don’t know what else to do would.

This might not be the best version of Tiger, but it’s probably the most interesting to me.

Tiger persisted with the idea that he might serve again ahead of the 2023 Masters, which he’s likely to play. If this week’s successful debut in 2023 was any indication, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he played Bay Hill in two weeks or the Players Championship in three weeks. Whether that’s enough preparation to have a real shot at Augusta remains to be seen, but it’s a long way from where we thought he would be just three weeks ago.

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