Tuesday’s roundup: Woods’ season on line this week
Gainesville, Va. — Tiger Woods knows he’s played poorly over the past two years. Now, he’s facing the prospect of an early end to his season.
Normally, the Quicken Loans National would be the beginning of a busy stretch of golf for Woods, including the year’s final major, a World Golf Championship and the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Not this year. Barring a dramatic turnaround, this week’s tournament will be his second-to-last before the new PGA Tour season begins in the fall.
Woods is 197th in the FedEx Cup standings — the top 125 make the playoffs — and he needs a victory just to be eligible for next week’s Bridgestone Invitational, on a course where he’s won eight times. His last victory was at Firestone two years ago.
Woods was sidelined three months after back surgery in 2014, and this year he took two months off to fix a balky short game. He said Tuesday that he doesn’t feel a huge sense of urgency because he hasn’t played much competitive golf, something caddie Joe LaCava is always reminding him.
“Still trying to make a big, major swing change. Problems with my pattern and my short game,” Woods said, reciting the litany of woes that have seen him fall to 266th in the world. “I haven’t scored very well. I missed cuts. I haven’t done much in the last couple of years and so I haven’t played a whole lot of golf in the last couple years. That’s what Joey keeps reminding me of, ‘Would you just relax?’”
If Woods is feeling stressed, it wasn’t evident during Tuesday morning’s practice round. He joked around with good friend Arjun Atwal, turning serious only when Atwal ribbed him about getting older. “I’m not 40 yet,” said Woods, who’ll reach that milestone in December.
Woods mostly found the fairways with his driver and routinely flew the ball 30 yards past Atwal. He said he hits the ball about a club farther in the muggy summer weather — in contrast to the cold and wind he battled in the British Open at St. Andrews, where he missed the cut.
Woods said after his latest disappointing finish in a major that his “spin rates” were off. But he didn’t touch a club for a week after St. Andrews, instead going diving with his children in the Bahamas.
“When I geared back up, started doing some testing and found a couple little things but wasn’t anything major, which was nice,” Woods said. “Some of my swings just weren’t quite right.”
In eight events this year, Woods has missed three cuts and withdrawn once. He’s shot five rounds in the 60s and three rounds in the 80s. His best finish is a tie for 17th at the Masters. While he used to find ways to break par when his game wasn’t sharp, now he said he’s shooting 74 or worse.
“I’m not scoring, obviously,” he said. “I’ve had chances to make those runs and I just haven’t done it.”
Woods is the host of the Quicken Loans National, which benefits his foundation. This year it’s being played for the first time at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, about 35 miles west of the nation’s capital. Next year it will return to Congressional, where it’s been played six times.
RTJ has hosted four Presidents Cups, most recently in 2005.
Quicken Loans National
Course: Robert Trent Jones Golf Club (7,385 yards, par 71), Gainesville, Va.
Purse: $6.7 million ($1,206,000 winner)
TV: Golf Channel — 2:30-6:30 p.m., 9:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Thursday; 2-6 a.m., 2:30-6:30 p.m., 9:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Friday; 4-6 p.m., 1-2:30 p.m., 9:30 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturday; 1-2:30 p.m. Sunday. CBS — 3-6 p.m. Saturday, 3-6:30 p.m. Sunday
Last year: Justin Rose won at Congressional in Bethesda, Md., beating Shawn Stefani with a par on the first hole of a playoff.
Course: Trump Turnberry Resort, Alisa Course (6,410 yards, par 72), Turnberry, Scotland
Purse: $3 million ($474,575 winner)
TV: ESPN2 — 9 a.m.-noon Thursday-Friday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. ABC — 5-6 p.m. Sunday
Last year: Mo Martin won at Royal Birkdale, closing with a 6-foot eagle putt after her 3-wood approach hit the pin. Suzann Pettersen and Shanshan Feng tied for second, a stroke back.
Course: TPC Twin Cities (7,114 yards, par 72), Blaine, Minn.
Purse: $1.75 million ($262,500 winner)
TV: Golf Channel — noon-2 p.m. Friday; 2-4 a.m., 3-6 p.m. Saturday; 2:30-5:30 a.m., 3-6 p.m. Sunday
Last year: Kenny Perry won the second of his two 2014 titles. He finished at 23 under, shooting 65-63-65 to beat Bernhard Langer by a stroke.