Top-ranked Scottie Scheffler simply stood head and shoulders above the rest of the field.
The 27-year-old Scheffler shot a bogey-free, four-under-par 68 to defeat Sepp Straka of Austria by three strokes in the 24th Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Course in New Providence, The Bahamas.
The Hero World Challenge is an unofficial PGA Tour event, as the 2023 season has ended and the new campaign will begin with the Sentry Tournament of Champions on the Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort on the Hawaiian island of Maui on Jan. 4.
Hero tournament host Tiger Woods, playing for the first time since withdrawing from the Masters and undergoing a second surgery on his right ankle in April, made five birdies in his closing 72 and finished 18th in the 20-player field.
“It was great to be out here playing with the guys again, although my game obviously was a little rusty, but you have to start somewhere,” said Woods, who has captured the Hero World Challenge a record five times, the last in 2011.
“I didn’t know what to expect playing four straight days and walking the course for the first time in a while, and I’m pretty sore right now. I played OK, but I wish I could have made a few more putts. I’m looking forward to playing in a couple weeks with (son) Charlie in the PNC Challenge, where he always carries me.
“Then we’ll see about next year.”
Scheffler maintained the three-stroke lead he took into the final round by making two birdies on each nine in his flawless 68 to record a 72-hole winning score of 20-under-par 268 for his ninth professional victory.
Straka, who captured the John Deere Classic earlier this season for his third pro title and second on the PGA Tour, posted a bogey-free 64 that included five of his eight birdies on the front nine, while two-time major champion Justin Thomas had four birdies on the back nine in a 67 that put him four shots back in solo third.
“I was optimistic coming into this week, was hitting the ball well, and it was nice to see some putts going in,” said Scheffler, who finished second in the Hero World Challenge each of the last two years. “I felt like when I needed to make some birdies on the back nine today and I was able to do that on the 14th and 15th holes to stay in control, and it was nice to have no bogeys.
“I think I just played solid golf today, not spectacular, and kept my distance from the rest of the guys. It was the same game plan as I always have. I was just trying to hit good shots and give myself as many chances as I could for birdies, and I made a few, which kept me out in front of everyone else.
“I’ve played well in this tournament before, so it’s nice to finally win it.”
First-round co-leader Tony Finau made five birdies on the front nine in a 67 and wound up five behind in a tie for fourth with eighth-ranked Matt Fitzpatrick of England, who had three birdies on the back nine in a 70, while Jordan Spieth, the 2014 Hero winner, was six behind in solo sixth after making four birdies coming home in a 68, followed by Collin Morikawa of La Canada Flintridge and Cal, who had five birdies in another 68.
Ninth-ranked Brian Harman, who was tied for the lead after round one, made five birdies in a closing 70 to wind up nine down strokes in a tie for eighth with Justin Rose of England, who made six birdies on the front nine in a 66, while fourth-ranked Viktor Hovland of Norway, two-time defending Hero champion, played his best golf of the week with two eagles and six birdies in a 63 to finish 11 shots behind in 10th.
Seventh-ranked Max Homa of Valencia and Cal had three birdies on the back nine in a 69 to tie for 13th, Rickie Fowler of Murrieta, the 2017 Hero champion, eagled the seventh hole in another 69 to finish 17th, and 10th-ranked Wyndham Clark, the reigning U.S. Open champion, made two late birdies in a 70 and was 19th.
The Hero World Challenge benefits Woods’ TGR Foundation, which sponsors youth education programs.
For complete results, visit: https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard