In Tiger Woods’ return to golf at the Memorial last month, he showed flashes of brilliance, moments of rust, rallied to make Friday’s cut and ended up with a middling T40 finish.
He didn’t expect to replicate that so exactly at the PGA Championship, where he snuck inside the cut line and stalled out with a Saturday 72, ending any outside chance at contention. Still, Woods was encouraged after a Sunday 67 — even if it left him, once again, at T40 (at the time of this writing).
Woods looked both back and forward in his post-round press conference. What did we learn from his week?
He felt “competitive.”
Woods was largely optimistic after rallying to his lowest score of the week on Sunday, leaving a better taste in his mouth.
“If I would have made a few more putts on Friday early on, and the same thing with Saturday, I felt like I would have been right there with a chance come today,” he said. “It didn’t happen, but I fought hard, and today was more indicative of how I could have played on Friday and Saturday if I would have made a few putts early.”
His body feels good.
Going into the event, much of the Woods-related analysis had to do with how his body would hold up in the San Francisco chill. But even when Woods’ putter refused to warm up, his body seemed to be cooperating just fine.
“Yeah, I kept layering up, made sure that I stayed on the warm side, if anything, and tried to make sure I stayed, if anything, sweaty, kept loose. Overall the body reacted pretty good. The best thing to do is stay out of the rough and not have any of those jarring shots.”
He’s ready to play a bunch of golf coming up.
Whenever Woods finishes a tournament, we’re especially focused on one question: What event will he play next?
We know he’s skipping next week’s Wyndham Championship, but then the FedEx Cup Playoffs begin. Woods will have the opportunity to play the Northern Trust at TPC Boston, the BMW Championship the following week at Olympia Fields and, if he plays well enough, the week after that at the Tour Championship at East Lake. Two weeks after that is the U.S. Open.
Four events in six weeks?! That would be a shock to the system for a guy who has only played two events in six months. Here’s what Woods said about playing multiple weeks:
“Well, that’s potentially what could happen, and we’ve been training for that,” he said. “Trying to get my strength and endurance up to make sure that I can handle that type of workload. We knew once I started playing again when I committed to Memorial that this was going to be a heavy workload, and my training sessions, we’ve been pushing it pretty hard, making sure that I kept my strength and endurance up.”
What does that mean, exactly? We don’t know for sure, except that it sounds like Woods is planning to play some golf. We’ll see him in Boston. We’ll see him at Winged Foot. We might see him two more times in between. That’s good for everyone!
The new putter is (might be?) here to stay.
Woods was positive, if not exactly crystal-clear, about the future of his new gamer putter. He reiterated the ability it gives him to practice without putting as much strain on his back and that it reminds him of putting drills he does with his sand wedge.
“I love a heel-shafted putter, feeling that toe release, and so those are things that I’ve always done. That won’t change,” he said. “What makes the starting lineup, who knows, but I know that putting at home when I do putt — I’ve done it, as I said, since my childhood playing with a sand wedge, it is a lot longer than my putter, and I’ve putted with that thing pretty much my entire life.”
We’ll know more about the flatstick, and the rest of Woods’ season, in just over a week. The golf world will be eager for his (next) return.