Tiger Woods’ return to the PGA Tour has exceeded expectations. That the 42-year-old was able to make 17 starts is a success in itself, to say nothing of title runs at Bellerive, Carnoustie, Innisbrook and Bay Hill. Qualifying for the season-ending Tour Championship on a (relatively) truncated schedule is icing on the cake.
Not to say Woods’ game has been without fault. It’s hard to enjoy sustained contention without a strong tee ball, and Woods’ driving performance (108th sg/ott) has hindered his ability to strike. Same goes with his putting. The stats show Woods has been adequate with his short game, ranking 52nd in sg/putting and 65th in total putting. In truth, those figures mask his woes with the flat stick, converting just 87.2 percent of putts inside 10 feet (122nd on tour) and making nothing from long distance (3.77 percent outside of 25 feet, 174th on tour).
This is not to be critical of Woods; rust was expected after his sabbatical from competition. However, with a full year under his belt—and more importantly, his health now intact—one would think Tiger would utilize the offseason to tackle these troubles. While they may be on the docket, it sounds like the 14-time major winner has a higher priority on his agenda.
Following his final round at the BMW Championship, Woods was asked what’s next for him after East Lake and the Ryder Cup, and what changes he has in store for his game. His answer was unexpected.
“I’m going to take a long break after the Ryder Cup and we’re going to evaluate things but, more importantly, I need to start really lifting and getting after it and getting stronger in certain areas because playing every single week seems like every single day is maintenance at this point, war of attrition,” Woods said. “What you do in the offseason is what allows you to maintain it through the year especially on the backside of the year and I really didn’t train for all this. Because I didn’t know how much I was going to be playing. I was just trying to play.
“So, next year I have a better understanding of what I need to do and this offseason will be very different than it was last year.”
In one regard, this makes sense, although Woods’ performance down the closing stretch—four top-six finishes in his last seven events—doesn’t indicate he’s running on fumes. Conversely, he’s one of the top three players ever, so who are we to dictate his regimen?
Woods will start the Tour Championship in 20th place in the FedEx Cup standings. It will be his first appearance at East Lake since 2013.