Even if Tiger Woods had shot an 83 on Sunday at the Farmers Insurance Open, it still would have been a thrill to see him in the classic red-and-black. Woods didn’t card an 83—he ended up finishing with an even-par 72 on Sunday to finish at minus-3 for the tournament—but it was a kick seeing the ghost of the 2000s stalking Torrey Pines once again…even if he did clear the course hours before the leaders would finish.
Sunday’s round, the first final round Woods had played in a full-field tournament since August 2015, ran like Woods’ previous three: plenty of reason for hope, plenty of reason for concern. The biggest problem: Woods killed himself off the tee. Woods only hit 17 out of 56 fairways all week, forcing him to play from behind on dozens of holes.
But here’s the good news: Woods managed to play at or above the field’s level once the tee shots were through. His 65 percent greens-in-regulation rate bettered the field by about 7 percent, and he turned around a terrible day of putting on Thursday to finish with a strokes-gained total of 0.8 putts per round. He climbed at one point on Sunday into the top 20, and went on to finish his round in a tie for 27th as he hit the clubhouse. It wasn’t a thrilling quartet of rounds, but it wasn’t a disaster, either, and at this point, just showing up for four days counts as a success for Woods.
So what happens here? The at-worst-second-greatest-player-in-golf-history played without apparent pain, played well enough to show that he still belongs on the weekends of PGA Tour events. Beyond that? Well, that’s where it gets a little tricky. Woods has to figure out how to scrape the rust off his driver, to redirect his tee shots so that he can carve off a couple more strokes per round. If he can do that, then the conversation can begin about competing. Until then…well, it’s great to see him on Sundays, no matter how early he tees off.
We’ll next see Woods play at the Genesis Open from Feb. 15-18. He’s got work to do before then, but he’s given his many fans hope that he’s still got a bit of game left.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.