Woods: ‘I’m not that far off from winning’ after T11 at THE PLAYERS
May 13, 2018
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
Tiger Woods’ approach sets up 18-foot birdie at THE PLAYERS
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Rarely has a tie for 11th place provided such riveting theater.
Showing flashes of the man who won THE PLAYERS Championship in 2001 and 2013, Tiger Woods made six birdies in his first 13 holes to get within four shots of front-runner Webb Simpson at TPC Sawgrass on Sunday.
Alas, Woods went 3-over the rest of the way for a final-round 69 (T11) that he said was another giant leap forward in his continuing comeback.
“I hit it so good,” Woods said. “It was nice. I had control of it from tee to green; I made some putts; I felt good on basically every facet of the game, and it's weird; not to really mishit a shot today and only shoot 3-under par is just weird, because I played much better than that.”
Woods went out in 32 and got to 14-under with his birdie at the 12th hole. He was in second, breathing down the neck of the leader Simpson. Could it be?
In retrospect, there were several problems with this comeback scenario. Woods was too far back to start the day (11 shots), he was playing with Jordan Spieth (74, T41) and not Simpson, and he would have needed to make zero mistakes the entire day. That didn’t happen.
Still, he was hugely encouraged after scores of 72-71-65-69.
“It was just a matter of time,” Woods said, “and this weekend was it.”
In retrospect, Woods would have needed to go 4-under for his last six holes to tie Simpson (73). Instead, Woods went the other way, dropping three strokes coming in. He spun his approach shot off the front of the 14th green and bogeyed the hole, which has vexed him for years. After a par at 15, he failed to birdie the par-5 16th hole, one of the easiest on the course.
Woods finished with a double-bogey 5 at the 17th, where he misjudged the wind and hit his tee shot short in the water, and made par at the last. He hit 11 of 14 fairways for the second straight day, was 12 for 18 in greens in regulation, and took 27 putts. He ended the week T19 in strokes gained: putting, and was 14th in strokes gained: around-the-green.
“He looks like the old Tiger,” said Tom Lehman, who was on hand for this PLAYERS and who played against Woods when the 79-time PGA TOUR winner was in his prime.
Woods had finished second at the Valspar Championship earlier this season, but still considered his T11 performance at TPC Sawgrass a massive step in the right direction.
“There's no way I would have predicted I would be at this point the beginning of the year,” he said. “The way I was just coming back and just trying to get a feel for it and then hopefully have a schedule. Didn't know. But now I feel like I've got my playing feels and I'm playing tournament golf and I've got it -- I'm not that far off from winning golf tournaments.”
As for where he goes from here, Woods said he’s aiming to try to qualify for the next World Golf Championships tournament, the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone South, Aug. 2-5. “This summer is -- there are some big events to be played,” he said, “and one of my goals is to get into Akron, one last time, before we leave there. I've won there eight times and I would like to get there with one more chance. But I got to do some work between now and then, hopefully put together one good event.”