Tiger Woods finished the week No. 1 in strokes gained-putting. (Cannon/Getty Images)
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
Tiger Woods told us something late Saturday night that should have gotten everyone’s attention.
Following his third-round 66 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard, Woods said, “I just understand how to fix my game. It’s taken me awhile. … I hit a bad shot here and there, and that’s easy to fix. I know what my fix is going to be and that makes a big difference.”
That is a huge statement for a golfer to make. Woods is saying he “owns” his swing. If that’s true, and Woods’ performance this year would indicate it is accurate, then Tiger is about to once again dominate the sport. When a golfer can fix his game “on the fly” he can avoid the bad rounds that eliminate him from contention.
Moment of truth: Rickie Fowler had momentum and opportunity. He just did not execute. At the 16th hole, Fowler had just 179 yards to the flag for his second shot into the par 5. He did not rush the shot, waiting for the wind to help but caught the club “a tad heavy.” Fowler’s ball hit the bank fronting the green and his ball rolled into the water hazard. Woods faced an approach from out of a fairway bunker and could have laid up short of the water. Instead, he hit his approach into the middle of the green and two putted for birdie. Both players knew the importance of the moment; Tiger seized that moment and the tournament.
Putting: Woods came into the tournament ranked sixth in strokes gained-putting and improved on his numbers. He was a gaudy No. 1 this week at 11.218, using just 110 strokes on the greens. When Tiger putts that well, he is just about unbeatable.
Par 5s: Woods finished 13 under for the tournament and was 14 under on the par 5s. That number included a trio of eagles, which doubled his total for the year. Woods came into the week ranking sixth in par 5 birdie or better leaders. He last led that category back in 2009 when he made birdie or better 57 percent of the time.
Triple: It’s become cliché to say a round is not defined by the great shots but rather by the quality of your bad shots. It’s necessary to minimize the damage following a bad shot. Fowler has made a double bogey or worse in each of his last 15 tournaments and that includes a triple bogey on Monday’s 16th hole. We forget Fowler is just 24 years old and is still learning lessons.
Weather: Golfers found a much different golf course in the final round. Greens were getting firm before Sunday’s thunderstorms but the deluge dramatically changed things. Golf balls were hitting and stopping with zero roll in the fairway and greens were receptive throughout the final round. Not even 20 mph gusts could dry the course. The soft course gave way itself to aggressive play.
Progress: Mark Wilson made progress this week. He came to Orlando having missed the cut in four of the last six events, ranking 110th in FedExCup points. His best finish this year was a T11 and that came in the field shortened Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Wilson’s other two cuts resulted in T37 at The Honda Classic and T61 at the Northern Trust Open. It’s easy for a player to lose confidence and patience, even when you have the talent of Wilson. His third-place finish should help restore some swagger to Wilson’s game.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here