Playing competitively for the first time since February, the 41-year-old signed off with a four-under-par 68 at Albany Golf Club for an eight-under-par 280 total, finishing joint ninth in an 18-man field.
Woods, who underwent his fourth back surgery in April, raced to the turn in 31, which included an eagle-2 at the seventh, before mixing three birdies with a double-bogey and those two closing bogeys coming home.
“I knew I was going to be able to play all four rounds, that wasn’t going to be an issue,” said the 14-time major winner afterwards. “The issue was how was my scoring going to be. How was my feel. How am I going to get used to the adrenaline in my system for the first time in a while. That took a little bit of time.
“I was still scratchy with my irons. I drove it good all week and made some good putts. Overall, I am very pleased. I showed some good signs. I hit some really good shots out there. I felt no pain and [feel confident about] a bright future.”
Woods, who had slipped to 1,199th in the world rankings during his latest absence, had started the week as a 40-1 outsider in this event but is now a 20-1 shot for the first major in 2018, The Masters in April. “We are going to sit down and figure out what best way to build a schedule for major championships,” he replied to being asked about his schedule for next season.
“How much I will play and what my training cycles will be. Play enough but don’t play too much. I don’t know what golf courses I’ll be playing and also what is the best way to go about it.”
Former Scottish Open champion Rickie Fowler closed with a course-record 61 as he won the event hosted by Woods by four shots. The American started his final round with seven birdies, helping him set a tournament record 270 total. On the European Tour, South African Dylan Fritelli beat India’s Arjun Atwal at the second extra hole to win the AfrAsia Mauritius Open, while Cameron Smith prevailed at the same stage in a shoot-out with fellow Australian Jordan Zunic to come out on top in the Australian PGA Championship.