Woods 'way better' in advance of BMW Championship
Ready to try and play his way up FedExCup standings
August 14, 2019
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
Tiger Woods comments on recent injury before the BMW Championship
MEDINAH, Ill. – Tiger Woods addressed the media after his pro-am round Wednesday and said he’s feeling ready to play in the BMW Championship at Medinah No. 3, the second week of the FedExCup Playoffs.
After shooting an opening 75 at THE NORTHERN TRUST last week, Woods withdrew Friday with a mild oblique strain. He arrived at Medinah on Tuesday and took treatment, and with his pro-am partners on Wednesday he played nine holes and chipped and putted for nine more.
“Oh, way better, yeah,” he said of his health compared to a week ago. “It was nice to take those days off, and I had to just let it calm down and get a bunch of treatment on it, and it feels so much better. I played nine today, played the front nine, and played well, which was nice to see, nice to feel. Took the back nine off, chipped and putted quite a bit, and it feels like – definitely doesn't feel like it did on Friday, that's for sure.”
Woods is slated to play with Billy Horschel and C.T. Pan in the first round at 12:54 p.m. ET Thursday, and he has plenty to play for. At 38th in the FedExCup, he is projected to need no worse than an 11th-place finish to break into the top 30 and make it to the TOUR Championship.
It was at East Lake that Woods notched his 80th victory a year ago. The win capped off a terrific comeback season for a player with a fused back whose career once seemed to be over. He landed his 81st victory at the Masters Tournament this past April, another epic win.
Then reality hit.
Admittedly worn out, Woods slowed down. He played less – just five starts since April – and his clubhead speed dipped. He fizzled at the PGA Championship at Bethpage (MC), and didn’t contend at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach (T21), despite having won on both courses. He missed cut at The Open Championship (opening-round 78) and WD'd at THE NORTHERN TRUST.
The Windy City, though, is a Woods favorite. He won the 1999 and 2006 PGA Championships at Medinah, and five BMW Championships at nearby Cog Hill Golf & Country Club.
“Yeah, I'm excited to be back in Chicago,” he said. “I mean, this is one of the places that I've thoroughly enjoyed playing over the years, and this was – going back to it, this is the area that I made my first cut on the PGA TOUR, a long time ago, and I've had some really good memories and some wins here that have been pretty memorable for me.”
When he’s healthy, Woods is still a formidable player; he’s still ranked sixth in the world. He will captain the U.S. Team at the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne this December, but has not ruled out playing on that team. At 13th on the U.S. points list, he wouldn’t crack the top eight even with a win – the BMW is the last chance for players to work their way into the top eight in points for automatic inclusion – but he could make a case for himself as a pick.
All of that, though, takes a back seat to his health.
“Yeah, swinging,” he said, when asked if he knew what caused his latest injury. “As I've said before, the forces have got to go somewhere, and unfortunately when I make any kind of tweaks and changes to my swing, it's like a new body part is aching. Unfortunately, I can't play around the back like I used to, and unfortunately things flare up.
“I tried to make tweaks all year,” he added, “trying to ease the stress off my back while I was still playing. Unfortunately, I haven't really done a very good job of that, and when I have, I've hit the ball quite well. I was really excited about what I was doing at Liberty (National). I made some nice changes and obviously didn't feel very well on Thursday.”
Medinah was the longest course in major championship history in 1999 and is still brawny and difficult. It will play to a par 72 of 7,613 yards, with forced carries over water and juicy rough.
“The golf course is a lot bigger,” Woods said. “It's a lot longer than I remember.”
Is that a concern? Perhaps. At the PGA at Bethpage Black, Woods couldn’t match the brawn of the golf course, making double bogey on his very first hole and never quite recovering. At the BMW at Medinah, where the rough is up, Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy are among those who have already predicted that the course will make similar demands of the world’s best.
In other words, Woods’ improved feeling and range of motion will be tested.
“Body-wise it's the same,” he said. “If it's not one thing, it's another. Things just pop up. That's been one of the biggest challenges coming back from last year. You saw I'm making tweaks and changes trying to play around this back and trying to be explosive and have enough rest time and training time. That's been the biggest challenge of it all.
“This week is no different,” he added. “I'm trying to win this tournament just like anybody else in this field and trying to get to East Lake and trying to get to a place where a lot of things changed for me last year, and hopefully I can make that happen.”