Tiger Woods can’t recall the last time he wanted to play in a tournament but wasn’t eligible, as an amateur and as a pro.
For the first time since he said, “Hello, World,” he’s sitting out an event, the Tour Championship, because he didn’t perform well enough to qualify. (Interestingly enough, he skipped it in 2006.) Now how about that? It’s usually the other way around with Woods mapping out a carefully selected schedule of only the most prestigious tournaments (partly because he’s in the field).
“Obviously I would rather be there,” said Woods. “I’ve played better than I have all this year. But it is what it is. I didn’t qualify, and since I’m at home it also gives me two weeks to practice and prepare.”
Woods, the defending FedEx Cup champion, needed a strong finish to earn enough FedEx Cup points and get in the top-30 for a spot at East Lake. Playing alongside world’s number two Phil Mickelson, Woods started poorly, posting two-over on the front nine. He mustered a final inning charge, birdieing three of the last five holes, to shoot one-under 70 and finish one-under for the tournament, eight shots behind champion Dustin Johnson. But it wasn’t enough. He tied for 15th and only moved nine spots up in the FEC standings to 42.
“Yeah, got to keep fighting, got to keep battling, and I did that all day today,” said Woods. “I’m proud of the fact that I was able to turn my round around and hit a lot of good golf shots after not hitting many starting out.
“I didn’t play well in the beginning of the year and I didn’t play well in the middle of the year, and now I’m starting to play well now. I’m headed in the right direction, which is good, a lot of good signs, and I just need to keep working and stay the course.”
How many times have we heard Woods preach this sermon in the past five months? Just asking. But to be fair, since he went public on his relationship with instructor Sean Foley, Woods has been showing signs of promise; it’s just not the same guy we’re used to seeing blow away the field with ease. He also hasn’t won in 12 starts this year, representing the longest stretch of his career without a victory.
While it seems strange to have a Tour Championship without the world’s number one player, I chuckle at the idea of NBC sending a camera crew to Woods’ home course at Isleworth in Florida. “And now to Tiger Woods practicing chip shots at Isleworth with Sean Foley after his best ball match this morning with Arjun Atwal and John Cook — and Mark O’Meara popped by his old neighborhood to say hello.”
Good news is that Woods will have an extra week to work on his game before heading off to Wales for the Ryder Cup.
“I can practice at home with Sean in peace and away from everybody and put some work in and also work on my short game and my putting, things I have not been able to do out here,” he said. “It’ll be nice to work on all these little things and concentrate on my game a little bit more and sharpen up, be ready come Friday [of the Ryder Cup].”
Unless the networks send camera crews in helicopters.
[Photo by Kyle Auclair/InsideTheRopes.com]