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DBliss Post Sport
Tiger Woods made an impressive return, finishing eight under par in a share of ninth place at the Hero Challenge

By Iain Carter | BBC golf correspondent

Christmas came early for the game of golf last week, with Tiger Woods' successful return in the Bahamas the perfect present for anyone who considers themselves a fan of the sport.

Tellingly, the physical challenge of completing four competitive rounds for the first time in a year was not the issue for the former world number one. It was all about the standard of his game after a 301-day absence from competition.

And while his performance was not perfect, to finish the Hero Challenge eight under par in a share of ninth place was highly encouraging.

Yes, this was a fun, season-ending shootout with a field limited to only 18 competitors, but Woods still beat PGA Tour player of the year Justin Thomas, world number one Dustin Johnson and the US Open champion Brooks Koepka.

Woods fired rounds of 69, 68, 75 and 68 and had two eagles, 17 birdies and only one double bogey. Albany is a resort course and there are far tougher golfing tests but realistically Woods could not have asked for more from his return.

"Some of the shots he hit, I just thought that's vintage Tiger," European Ryder Cup star Chris Wood told BBC Sport.

"You can see the speed in the swing and that's the biggest thing. In the final round he hit a two iron over the back of the green, pitching it 250 yards. He's doing something right there isn't he?"

Woods' putting stroke also looked very assured and the only apparent weaknesses occurred with some touch shots around the greens that went awry.

"Those are the sort of things, when you come back after a break, your golfing brain takes a couple of rounds to get back into it," Wood pointed out.

"I thought there were so many positives for him last week and I think he'd be over the moon with that performance."

And the 2016 winner of the PGA Championship is thrilled that golf's biggest personality is back in the game. Wood says it was his near namesake who inspired him to take up the sport.

"I grew up with him, he won his first Masters when I was 10 years old," Wood said.

"I think for anybody of my generation, there's been a void in the last two, three, four years when Tiger's not been there. It's just not been the same.

"You watch last week and not just me but so many people on Twitter were making so many comments and non golfers as well.  blue Button
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