Tiger Finishes Tied for 40th at The Northern Trust
PARAMUS, N.J. – Never mind the finish, Tiger Woods had many reasons to feel good about his performance this week at The Northern Trust.
This marked Woods’ first appearance in the FedEx Cup playoffs since 2013. In April of 2017, he ranked No. 656 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He started this week at No. 26.
Two weeks ago at the PGA Championship, Woods fired a final-round 64 to earn solo second. He did it without finding a fairway on the front nine at Bellerive Country Club and hit five overall.
This week at Ridgewood Country Club, Woods changed the shaft and loft of his driver and it paid immediate dividends. After hitting 9 of 14 the first three days, he missed only three on Sunday.
Tee to green, Woods was outstanding. He hit 52 of 72 greens in regulation and ranked 10th in strokes gained, tee to green, and third in strokes gained, approach to the green.
He made only one bogey in the last two rounds.
On Sunday, Woods closed with a 1-under 70 and tied for 40th at 4-under 280. Bryson DeChambeau pulled away for a four-stroke victory and finished at 18-under 266.
Woods has been tinkering all season to find the right combination of shaft and loft. Earlier in the week, he opted for an old driver shaft that has produced wins on the PGA Tour. He also increased the loft on his clubhead from 8.5 to 9.5 degrees and seemed more comfortable and confident.
Of course, the big challenge in golf is having everything click the same week. At Ridgewood, Woods never honed in on the greens. He used 35 putts on Friday, then improved to 28 the last two days.
Woods missed nine birdie attempts inside 20 feet – three from 10 or closer.
He joked that he used up his quota of sinks at the PGA, where he required only 23 putts in the final round.
“You have good weeks and bad weeks,” said Woods. “The greens, sometimes they look good to you, sometimes they don’t. All of my good putts, basically, went in at Bellerive and the bad putts lipped out. This week, the good putts lipped out and the bad ones didn’t have a chance. That’s the way it goes.”
Making his 15th PGA Tour start of the year, Woods failed to crack the top 30 for only second time minus two missed cuts.
Even in his five top-10 showings in 2018, The Northern Trust was the best Woods has driven the ball. That bodes well not only for the remaining three FedEx Cup tournaments and likely the Ryder Cup, but also next year.
Paired with Austin Cook on Sunday, Woods started the final round at 3-under and his goal was to reach double-digits. Given how well he struck the ball, a 64 was doable.
Woods got off to a good start by holing a six-foot birdie putt at the 190-yard par-3 second. But he missed a five-footer at the par-4 fifth and concluded the side with seven consecutive pars, lipping out from 20 feet at the par-4 ninth.
More near-misses ensued at 11 and 12. At the par-5 12th, Woods made his best putt of the day, drilling a 12-footer to save par.
A nice approach from 134 yards set up a six-foot birdie at 14, which he buried. But he dropped a shot at the 155-yard par-3 15th, where Woods attacked the back pin, flew long and short-sided himself, and couldn’t save par, his first bogey in 33 holes.
Woods parred in.
“What you’re seeing is that I’m close and just one shot here, one shot there, per day, flips the momentum,” Woods said. “It’s just looking for one shot a day here and there, and you just never know when that shot may come.”
Ultimately, putts must drop to win on the PGA Tour.
“You have to make putts,” he said. “That’s the only way you’re going to shoot low rounds. I didn’t do it this week.”
Woods is projected to rank No. 25 in the FedEx Cup standings, six spots higher than he started the week.
On Friday, Woods will play in the Dell Technologies Championship at TPC Boston, the second event of the FedEx Cup playoffs. The field is limited to the top 100 players in the points standings, with 70 advancing to the BMW Championship, Sept. 6-9 at Aronimink Golf Club in Newton Square, Pa.
Woods will head home to Florida to spend time with his kids before flying to TPC Boston, where he won in 2006.
“I haven’t been there in years, so I’m looking forward to it,” he said.