Hideki Matsuyama wins the Hero World Challenge as Tiger Woods returns to golf

Hideki Matsuyama won for the fourth time in his past five events at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. 

The young Japanese golfer is the hottest golfer in the world, shooting in the 60s in 16 of his last 18 rounds. His comfortable seven shot 54-hole lead was enough to hold off a charging Henrik Stenson, despite carding a final round 73.

“I can’t say that I played well today, but I did win Tiger’s tournament,” Matsuyama said. “And what a great honor that is.”

The world number 6 is now one of the best in the game and he will be hoping to carry this form through the new year and into the majors in 2017.

Despite Matsuyama’s excellence, the biggest talking point of the week was the former world no.1 Tiger Woods, who finally made his return to golf.

The 40 year old was returning after over a year out of the game and a significant drop to 898th in the Official World Golf Rankings. He showed glimpses of his old self, but finished in a disappointing 15th out of the 17 that finished the tournament.

Even though Woods is likely to be unhappy with his finish, his golf this week was up there with the very best in a very strong field. Recent major winners Jordan Spieth, Stenson and Dustin Johnson all participated in the event and Woods’ golf was certainly not too far behind theirs despite his layoff.

Woods put on an amazing show on his comeback and wowed the golfing world. He was -4 through eight holes on Thursday and shot a very impressive 65 on Friday. However, the American showed some clear rustiness and lack of tournament practice with him carding six double bogeys over the four days.

Tiger even had as many birdies as Matsuyama with 24, but wasn’t able to keep the big scores off his scorecard, explaining the vast difference between the two.

After the round Woods completed his first post tournament interview in 15 months. “It feels good to be back out here playing again, competing and trying to beat these, the best players in the world. I missed it. I love it.” He was clearly pleased with his comeback.

Woods has not made it clear when he will next play, but he aims to complete a full schedule in 2017 and has his eyes set on the Masters already with preparation beginning after this week.

 

By Mason McDonagh

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