Tiger vaults 531 spots in world rankings

Tiger Woods vaulted 531 spots to No. 668 in the world golf rankings following his tie for ninth place at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.

Woods, who entered 2017 ranked No. 652, had fallen to a career-low 1,199 entering last week’s event. The Hero World Challenge marked his first tournament since withdrawing from the Dubai Desert Classic in February, and he underwent back fusion surgery two months later.

Making a comeback for the second consecutive year at the tournament that benefits his charitable foundation, Woods shot an opening-round 4-under 69 and sandwiched a pair of 68s around a 3-over 75 on Saturday.

He tied for ninth at 8-under in the 18-player event, finishing ahead of the likes of top-ranked Dustin Johnson (even par) and No. 3 Justin Thomas (7-under).

Rickie Fowler also moved up two spots with his four-shot victory at the Albany Course, passing U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka and Henrik Stenson.

Woods, 41, has not announced when he intends to play next, but said he came away from the week very encouraged by his health and that he simply needs to practice more and get more tournaments under his belt.

“I knew I was going to be able to play all four rounds, that wasn’t going to be the issue,” Woods said, adding that he felt no pain in his back. “The issue was going to be how was my scoring 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? It took a little bit of time.

“I was still scratchy with my irons. I drove it pretty good all week and made some good putts. Overall I’m very pleased, I showed some good signs and I have a bright future.”

The 14-time major championship said his schedule will be built around getting into top form in time for the four majors in 2018, beginning with the Masters in April.

“I think that we’re going to sit down here (and) we’re going to figure out what’s the best way for me to build my schedule for the major championships: play how much, what my training cycles are going to be and play enough but don’t play too much,” Woods said on NBC. “I don’t know what golf courses I’ll be playing and what’s the best way to go about it. We’ll sit down with the whole team and we’ll figure it out.”