Woods fails to make TOUR Championship in otherwise ‘special’ season
August 18, 2019
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
Tiger Woods' 31-foot birdie putt at BMW Championship
MEDINAH, Ill. – The immediate emotion is disappointment. Tiger Woods will not be at East Lake next week to defend the TOUR Championship, where he returned to the winner’s circle for the first time in five years as exuberant galleries famously filled in behind him on the 18th fairway.
“Last year culminated in a pretty special moment for me and would’ve been nice to go back there,” Woods said, “but I’ll be watching the guys on TV.”
Upon reflection, however, the 2018-19 season that ended for Woods with a final-round even-par 72 on Sunday at the BMW Championship will leave him with a smile on his face. A return to major championship glory at the Masters – something golf fans feared they may never again witness – overrides any frustration with his consistency and reduced playing time as he manages his health.
“Very special to win my 15th major and get my fifth jacket,” Woods said when asked to evaluate his season. “Those are special moments. … The rest of the tournaments I didn’t really play as well as I wanted to, but at the end of the day, I’m the one with the green jacket.”
Woods wanted to extend his season one more week, and he needed a solo 11th or better at Medinah – a place in which he’s won two of his majors -- to give him a chance to break inside the top 30 in FedExCup points advancing to East Lake. But consecutive 1-under 71s to start the tournament left him needing fireworks on the weekend, and he just doesn’t have the game right now to summon those kinds of low scores. At 7 under for the week, he finished outside the top 35 – his worst four-round performance of the year.
Tiger Woods stays focused to set up birdie on No. 7 at BMW Championship
Consequently, it will be the 16th time in his career that he’s been unable to defend one of his 81 PGA TOUR titles for a variety of reasons.
“Little bit frustrating,” Woods said. “I didn’t have the short game I needed to make a run. I made too many bogeys around the greens. … The short game was most disappointing. I wasn’t very good.”
Woods ranked 64th (in the 69-man field) in Strokes Gained: Around the Green this week. He was just 2-of-8 in sand saves, and 17-of-26 in scrambling. Considering he had played just three competitive rounds in the previous eight weeks, Woods was asked if the short game issues were a reflection of his lack of playing time.
“I don’t know if it’s reps or not,” Woods said. “I didn’t have a feel for what I needed to do this week. I struggled out of the bunkers this week, especially today. … I misjudged the sand. Some were hard, some had some softness to it. I thought the rain would have made them all pretty firm, but I had a hard time getting the feel for it, for sure.”
So what happens now for Woods? Well, he will concentrate on improving his fitness, saying he needs to get “a little bit stronger in certain body parts.” He plans to play the new ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP in Japan in late October.
And, of course, he’ll be extremely busy as captain of the U.S. Team at this year’s Presidents Cup, to be held in December at Royal Melbourne. The top eight automatic spots were determined on Sunday, leaving Woods and his assistant captains to figure out who the four captain’s picks will be for the U.S. team. The announcement will be made in early November.
Woods is not one of the eight automatic qualifiers and it appears doubtful – especially in making just one start this fall – that he’ll use one of the picks on himself.
For now, he wants to concentrate on the top eight who did make the team Sunday.
“I’m excited to have the team locked in,” Woods said. “This is going to be our core of the team and can’t wait to reach out to all of them.”