Rickie Fowler fired a course-record and personal best 61 to win the Hero World Challenge by four. Fowler started the day seven shots behind 54 hole leader Charley Hoffman and took no time erasing the deficit. The 28-year-old star birdied his first seven holes of the day en route to a front nine 8-under 28, which propelled him into the lead and to the win. Full scores
Fowler caps of his 2017 with his second title of the season and eighth of his career. While he still lacks a major title, it's hard to not admire how Rickie Fowler has become one of the most complete and consistent players in the world.
The other story
Tiger Woods shot a final-round 68 to finish at 8 under in a tie for 9th. The week was a huge success for Woods who was making his first start in almost a year. He showed no ill-effects from his latest back surgery and that he could swing aggressively with no fears of injury.
Woods' driving distance will grab the headlines, but I found his accuracy to be the most impressive aspect of his game. On Sunday, Woods hit 12 of 13 fairways and on the week he avoided the big misses that have plagued him in recent years. The performance off the tee was reminiscent of the way he drove the ball in the late 90's and early 2000s.
Tiger had poor stretches of golf throughout the week and has some areas to clean up but all signs point to Tiger being able to compete at a high level.
Where do we go from here...
Tiger was non-committal following the tournament when asked where we would see him next. I expect Tiger to play a very limited and selective schedule, with a focus on preparing for majors. Hopefully, Tiger will avoid lengthy travel and back to back starts. I would guess that Tiger's schedule leading up to the Masters will look like this.
Farmers Insurance Open (Torrey) - January 25th-28th
Genesis Open (Riviera) - February 15th-18th
Honda Classic (Palm Beach) - February 22nd-25th
Arnold Palmer Invitational - March 15th-18th
Masters Tournament - April 5th-8th
Expectations for 2018
If Tiger stays healthy and builds off of his impressive performance at the Hero, 2018 is going to be a fun year of golf. Tiger injects a much needed veteran presence in the golf landscape. The sport has become dominated by a generation of golfers who grew up idolizing Tiger but have never competed against a healthy Woods. If Tiger drives the ball like he did this week, he will win again on the PGA Tour.
Brendan Porath and Adam Sarson joined the podcast to talk about Tiger’s return at the Hero and what to expect in 2018. We also touch on our favorite moments of 2017, make predictions for 2018 and talk about Tiger’s Monster sponsorship. Listen to the podcast on the website, iTunes and Stitcher and please be sure to rate and review us.
Additional Hero notes
I overheard on the telecast that Justin Rose has dropped his traditional shades because he reads greens better without them. Since, the Northern Trust he has won twice and finished no worse than 10th in eight starts.
Tiger's performance has bettors bullish. Woods' Masters Odds are up to 20 to 1, the same as Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama and better than defending champion Sergio Garcia.
A rising Aussie
24-year-old Cameron Smith won the Australian PGA Championship in a playoff over Jordan Zunic. Smith started the day three shots off Zunic's pace but tracked him down with a final-round 68. The Aussie came into the event hot having finished t5th, 3rd and 4th in his previous three starts. The win is Smith's first individual title of his young career. Earlier this year, Smith won the PGA Tour's 2 man Zurich Classic with Jonas Blixt. Full scores
Other Aussie PGA Notes
Mike Weir turned back the clocks, shooting a final round 67 to finish t15th. I hope this doesn't mean more PGA Tour Sponsor Exemptions.
Former USC All-American and Porter Cup Champion, Sean Crocker finished t7th. One week after a t15th at the European Tour's UBS Hong Kong Championship.