August 19, 2015

Tiger makes first career appearance at Wyndham Championship

Tiger Woods makes his first career appearance in the $5.4 million Wyndham Championship this week at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina. It marks the last regular-season event on the PGA TOUR schedule in 2014-15.

Woods, who missed the cut by two strokes at last week’s PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, still has a chance of qualifying for the upcoming FedExCup Playoffs. He comes into the Wyndham Championship with 187 points and is 292 points behind Charl Schwartzel, who ranks No. 125. The top 125 players qualify for the first FedExCup playoff event — The Barclays, Aug. 27-30, at Plainfield Country Club in Edison, New Jersey. Tiger will need a win (500 points) or possibly a solo second-place finish (300 points) to make the playoffs. 

“We’ll see what happens,” said Woods, after playing in the pro-am with NBA All-Star point guard Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers. “If I don’t win this event, then I have a big break and have some overseas stuff to do later.”

The only two-time winner of the FedExCup Playoffs, Tiger will be making his 11th start of the season. He has two top-25 showings, topped by a tie for 17th at the Masters Tournament.

“He’s still the biggest draw in golf,” Mark Brazil, the Wyndham Championship tournament director, told the Greensboro News & Record on Sunday. “Period. I’m not sure anyone else is even close.”

Tiger owns 79 career victories on the PGA TOUR, second only to San Snead with 82. Interestingly, Snead captured eight titles at the Wyndham Championship, the last coming in 1952 at age 52. The only other player in PGA TOUR history to win the same event eight times is Woods, who has done it at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.

After a tough start to the season, Tiger has shown signs of progress. In two recent starts, he tied for 32nd at the Greenbrier Classic and tied for 18th at the Quickens Loan National, opening with 68-66 at the latter.

Sedgefield Country Club opened in 1926 and was designed by acclaimed architect Donald Ross. The 7,130-yard layout features rolling fairways, small, undulating greens and plays to a par of 70.

Last year, Camilo Villegas fired a final-round 63 and finished with a tournament-record score of 17-under 262 to win the tournament.

Woods said the course was wet Wednesday due to overnight rain, and players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls.

“The ball is plugging, and I got a lot of mud balls,” he said. 

And while greens are soft, he said they are rolling beautifully.

“I haven’t putted on Bermuda greens this fast in a long time,” Tiger said. 

As for why he took two extra days to decide whether to play this week, Woods said he wanted to see how his body felt after playing last week and wanted to spend time with his two kids. 

“They had soccer games, and I took them to the first day of school,” he said. “I didn’t want to miss any time. Those are more important than any golf tournament.”

Coming into the week, Tiger heard he wouldn’t have to use driver as much as usual due to the length and tightness of the course. But with the softer conditions, he will likely alter his game plan, although he still plans to hit 2-iron and 3-woods off many tees.

He’ll also be trying to learn the greens as quickly as possible.

“I just need to be more consistent with everything,” Woods said.

Tiger has already reached out to congratulate newly crowned PGA champion Jason Day, one of his regular practice partners.

“I couldn’t be more proud of him,” he said. “Jason just flat-out played great, and Jordan [Spieth] pushed him. They both played great.”

Woods begins first-round play Thursday at 7:50 a.m. ET from the 10th tee with Brooks Koepka and Hideki Matsuyama. They are scheduled to start the second round Friday at 12:50 p.m. ET from the first tee.