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Tiger Woods cannot close Wyndham Championship but there's optimism for the future

Tiger Woods' season came to an abrupt close in Greensboro this week, but it was a thrilling throwback week and a positive improvement at the end of the worst summer of his career.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

For 64 holes Tiger Woods looked like the Tiger Woods of old. He was making putts, bombing drives and abusing par-5s. But a disastrous 11th hole during the final round of the Wyndham Championship ultimately doomed the Big Cat. And while that triple bogey put an end to his 2015 PGA Tour season, Woods can walk away from Sedgefield Country Club with some positives after an otherwise miserable summer.

The observing golf world will also have several takeaways from Tiger's first ever appearance in Greensboro.

Tiger ain't done yet.

For months Tiger has fired often confusing catchphrases about baseline shifts, spin rates, feels, etc. all while telling us he was "close." After three missed cuts in majors and average results in middling tournaments like the Quicken Loans National and Greenbrier, it was tough to believe him. But this week showed that Tiger is still capable of playing really good and competitive golf. And maybe more importantly, his desire to get back to the top seems to be there or else he wouldn't have bothered "lowering" himself and entering this event.

A few years ago when Tiger was No. 1 in the world, he would not have contemplated playing an event like the Wyndham. The field, made up of lesser known Tour pros and Web.com graduates is just no longer the type of venue that attracts the best of all time. But desperate times call for desperate measures, and Tiger entered in an effort to qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs and see if more work on this swing change could come together in one last regular season event. While he fell short of that goal, Woods simply entering reaffirms he's not content with his current standing and resume and is going to grind this out. By playing this week, he got more reps, almost won, and let the golfing world know that he won't be going quietly.

What about Spieth and friends?

As I mentioned, this is not exactly the best field on the PGA Tour's schedule. Jason Gore, Jonas Blixt and Davis Love III are not Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day. He played well, but can he compete with the latter group? Can he do it at tougher golf courses? We will have to wait until at least October to find out. Woods will likely commit to the Frys.com Open. McIlroy has already agreed to play the event, but even with Rory there, that's still not a signature event that would reveal whether Tiger can hang with the best in the world.

What could have been...

Man, he came close. The ugly triple bogey took Tiger out of it, but it was an otherwise excellent week of golf. He hit fairways and greens, made some putts, and showed some classic Woods short game magic (the triple excluded). His #TourSauce swagger were also turned all the way up. He was club twirling and walking putts in the hole all week. It was fun to watch.

Obviously a win would have been huge for Tiger. It would have put him in the Barclays next week and mitigated so much of the damage from this career-worst summer. A positive FedExCup run would have also inserted Tiger as an outside option for the Presidents Cup, which was unthinkable just a week ago.

But now it will be a long break for Woods. He can continue to grind away and fine tune his game with an eye on the 2016 season.

Tiger is still the main draw in golf

With all due respect to Jordan Spieth and Jason Day, they don't move the needle like Tiger Woods. No one does and no one ever will again. The Wyndham Championship printed an additional 39,000 tickets when he committed. They set record attendance figures each and every day of competition, and almost all of those extra tickets went to people that followed Tiger for the week. His galleries were huge and TV ratings saw a dramatic spike as well, up over 200 percent compared to certain rounds from last year. Whether you love him or hate him, Tiger will always be good for the game, and this week, at a normally sleepy tournament, he reminded us of that and just how fun it could be again.

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SB Nation video archives: Urban golfing with a U.S. Open champion (2012)