Mar
13
2011
Tiger Still Getting Closer, Sneaks In Top-Ten Finish
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Tiger Woods walked off TPC Blue Monster and out of the scoring tent in good spirits. He even wore a nice, big smile. Finishing his round while the leaders had yet to make the turn, Tiger finished strong with a six-under 66 in tough conditions on Sunday (though it wasn’t exactly a high-pressure situation) and crept in to place T10 at the WGC-Cadillac Championship — his first top-ten since the WGC-HSBC Champions last November in Shanghai where he finished T6 (unless you count exhibition events like the Chevron Challenge).

“Today I hit a lot of good golf shots and when I did mishit one, I knew what the fix was right away — boom and I got right back on my run of hitting good shots again,” said Woods. “That feels good.”

What about his process?

“It’s definitely getting better, there’s no doubt. I’m putting the pieces together. Everything is kind of shaping up and heading the right direction, which is good and peaking right at the right time, right for the Tavistock Cup,” Woods said with a smile.

He actually stole that joke from NBC’s Roger Maltbie, who called it the “sixth major.” Either way, Tiger had an extra pep in his step, grinning even when asked if he was still on track for The Masters next month.

During the first two rounds, Tiger struggled with his ballstriking, but believe it or not — his putting was worse, prompting him to substitute the Scotty Cameron for the Nike Method 003 on the weekend. Needing only 25 putts on Sunday, he looked more comfortable on the greens.

“I’ve always struggled on slow greens,” said Tiger. “I’ve just never really enjoyed putting on slow greens. The Method with the grooves, it comes off faster and it’s worked on the slower greens and that’s one of the reasons why I switched at St. Andrews to it. And I played it at Chevron last year. It definitely comes off faster especially on grainier greens like this, it helped a lot.”

He’s also not ruling it out for faster greens, like at Augusta. In fact, he’s working on dulling the grooves so the ball doesn’t come off as hot, which would allow him to use the Method  on slick surfaces.

Tiger’s iron play improved, too. He hit 72.2% of greens in regulation, ranking him T4 in the field. While his driving accuracy still needs work, perhaps this takes some pressure off swing instructor Sean Foley, who has been the target of recent criticism.

“I’m definitely not going the wrong way with (working with Sean), that’s for sure,” said Woods. “For some reason, I tend to get a little bit more scrutinized than most players do — analyzed to the nth degree about what goes on within one round of golf.

“That’s something new to Sean. He has not quite faced that, but he said one positive thing is I’m always on TV, which is good, so he gets to look at a lot of golf swings.”

Tiger will play in the Tavistock Cup, the two-day exhibition match among four golf clubs, starting on Monday at his home course, Isleworth. Good news is more reps in competition! He’s expected to play at Bay Hill in the Arnold Palmer Invitational the following week.

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)