Hundreds of thousands of dollars were on the line, but the stakes were otherwise low for Tiger Woods at Monday’s skins game in Japan, his first event since undergoing knee surgery Aug. 20. And while Woods didn’t win — Jason Day raised the trophy after winning eight skins and $210,000 — he seemed to relish the chance to get back onto the course to prepare for a somewhat busy schedule the rest of the year, saying it was great “just being able to compete again. I haven’t done this in a little bit now.”

“I did not play well at the beginning,” Woods added, per the Associated Press. “I hit a lot of bad shots and did not putt well. Once I got into the flow of competing and feeling the round, it just got exciting. We were competitive, the banter was great, the back and forth.”

Woods took home five skins and $60,000, matching the money won by Rory McIlroy for four skins. Playing in his homeland, Hideki Matsuyama earned just one skin and $20,000 at Narashino Country Club.

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Day sealed his win with a nice up-and-down under the lights at No. 18, his closing birdie netting him another $100,000.

“First time I’ve ever finished under lights, so that was exciting,” said Day, who added a playful dig at Woods for never winning a televised skins competition in his career.

Day also had some fun with Woods at No. 4, which like the rest of the holes on the course features two greens. (Japanese courses often feature two greens on every hole to keep one fresh at all times.) Woods’s approach landed between the two greens, prompting Day to ask him which green he was going for.

“I hit in between the greens, so it looked kind of like I kind of didn’t know what I was doing,” Woods said.

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Woods said Monday that his knee bothered him throughout the 2019 season, which he started with a memorable win at the Masters but ended with a string of noncompetitive finishes. After not qualifying for the season-ending Tour Championship, Woods elected to have surgery on his left knee to repair minor cartilage damage, his fifth such operation, on Aug. 20.

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“It progressively got worse and got to where it was affecting even reading putts,” Woods said. “You could see toward the end of the year I wasn’t getting down on my putts well.”

“It’s been nice to be able to squat down and read putts and start going at it full speed again,” Woods continued. “It’s just been wear-and-tear over the years. It’s just been stressed out for a very long time.”

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Woods will stay in Japan for this week’s Zozo Championship, the first official PGA Tour event to be held in that country. After that tournament, his next chore will be captaining the U.S. Presidents Cup team against a group of international players in December. Woods will announce his four at-large selections on Nov. 7, though he hinted in a blog post last month that he will be choosing himself for one of those slots.

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“I want to be fit and ready for the end of the year,” Woods said. “Been battling through this year. Nice to get over the hump and start feeling good again and go at it full speed.”

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