Woods finishes strong with final-round 68 at Hero

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And as recently as June, Nicklaus said that if Woods should resume playing golf he still firmly believed that Woods, who turns 42 later this month, could challenge his record of 18 major championships. "It was just one of those days".

The American opened with a 12-foot birdie at the first and added further gains over his next three holes, before continuing the run by chipping in from a greenside bunker at the par-four fifth.

But Woods kept battling away and finally started getting some joy from his putting, to finish with two birdies on the 14th and 17th holes to claw back two shots.

"At that time, I had already played four par 5s and nothing happened. I fought through it and tomorrow's another fight". At nine-under 207, Justin Rose (71) and Jordan Spieth (72) were tied second, while Francesco Molinari (71) was fourth.

He was right in it after two rounds, but a Saturday 75 dropped him well back of the lead, and Rickie Fowler has spent Sunday birdying literally all the damn holes, so Tiger is out of it.

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He reached the green in three but missed the putt to make bogey.

Woods, in his first tournament in almost 10 months following spinal fusion surgery, said he had some bad breaks on Saturday and that his game was better than his scorecard suggested.

"It was a rough start".

"I really didn't feel like I was that far off, that's the insane part", he said. On the 14th, Tiger rolled in a 10-foot putt for birdie and raised his cap to the cheering crowd.

He though didn't fail to see the bigger picture. "I just ended up in bad spots after good shots". "When you're out for this duration of time, it's very different to be out here like this and try to post a number".

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