ORLANDO: Tiger Woods battled through nausea, fever and vomiting to fire a 3-under par 69 on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) at the Hero World Challenge, his first tournament after a four-month injury layoff.
The former world number one birdied the last three holes to stand on level par 216 for 54 holes at Isleworth but remained last in the 18-player event.
“It wasn’t easy. I fought hard,” Woods said in a hoarse whisper. “Spent all I had.”
Woods, who had not played competitively since the PGA Championship in August because of a back injury, vomited from the first hole onward.
“I’ve been throwing up for hours,” Woods said, noting he was ill but not in pain and never considered quitting.
“I wasn’t doing too good at the beginning but I thought I could hang in there,” Woods said. “The fever just broke. As the round went on I was feeling better.”
Woods, who opened with a 77 on Thursday, fired a 70 on Friday with a fever but was worse off on Saturday.
“I didn’t have nausea and vomiting before,” Woods said. “I just didn’t have the explosiveness. I was pretty slow.”
Woods, a 14-time major winner chasing the career record of 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus, has only been hitting balls for a month after revamping his swing by returning to a style from younger days.
But Woods turns 39 later this month and no player has won four majors beyond that birthday.
Leader Jordan Spieth was 15 shots ahead of Woods with the back nine of the third round yet to play.
“Not bad. Only 15 back,” Woods said with a smile.