June 27, 2018

Woods Arrives At TPC Potomac For The 2018 Quicken Loans National

POTOMAC, Md. – No matter what happens the rest of the year – and a ton of golf remains – Tiger Woods’ return to competition has been eye-popping.

He hasn’t secured an elusive 80th PGA Tour victory yet, but Woods is closing in. Not that it detracts from his accomplishments.

Last year, Woods was 600th in the Official World Golf Ranking and uncertain if he would play again on the PGA Tour. He’s now 82nd and has produced four top-12 finishes and two top-fives in 10 official starts. Woods also posted a share of ninth at the Hero World Challenge.

This, following his fourth back surgery in 2017.

“There was no guarantee that I would ever play golf again,” Woods said Wednesday at TPC Potomac outside Washington, D.C., where he is hosting and competing in the Quicken Loans National. “So to go from that to here – I didn’t foresee that happening. I really didn’t.”

A winner of the event in 2009 and 2012, Woods has compiled impressive statistics during his comeback. He’s missed only two cuts, and his scoring average of 70.031 ranks 20th on the PGA Tour.

Additionally, Woods rates fourth on the circuit in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green and Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green. He’s also fifth in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and ninth in Strokes Gained: Total.

Woods averages 304.8 yards in driving distance, 26th on Tour. At the Valspar Championship in March, he recorded a club head speed of 129.2 miles-per-hour with his drive on the par-5 14th hole on Saturday — the fastest on Tour – and finished runner-up.

“I’m excited about the way I’ve been able to hit the ball,” he said. “To be able to build a golf swing around something that’s never been done before, no one’s had the club head speed as what I’ve had on the Tour this year with a lower back fusion. These are things that I didn’t know I could do and all of a sudden I’m doing it.”

Woods will enjoy it even more when his putter heats up.

After cooking on the greens on the West Coast and Florida Swings, he’s cooled off in his last four starts, tying for 23rd at the Memorial despite ranking 63rd in the field in putts per green in regulation.

During a break last week in the Bahamas, Woods experimented with a TaylorMade TP Collection Ardmore 3 mallet head putter. He used it Tuesday during a nine-hole practice round and again Wednesday in the pro-am.

“I’m trying to find something I can feel again like the swing of the putter, getting my body in the right positions and seeing the lines again,” said Woods.

He used a mallet putter in the 2011 Masters, but hasn’t decided whether to make a change or stick with his trusty Scotty Cameron Newport 2, which has helped him capture 13 of his 14 major titles.

Woods is also trying to be patient.

“I don’t want to play too much, but I need to play enough,” he said. “I’ve got a game now that can play, so it’s a matter of pacing myself through here, the Open, maybe Bridgestone, and then you’ve got the PGA and the (FedExCup) playoffs are right there with the Ryder Cup on the back side, so that’s a lot of golf coming up in the future.”

Woods is thrilled to be back playing at the Quicken Loans National, missing the tournament the last two years due to injury. Proceeds benefit the TGR Foundation and local youth charities.

“It’s been frustrating not being able to participate in this event,” he said. “We did a few things we are proud of.”

Woods will play the first two rounds with Marc Leishman and Bill Haas. They tee off Thursday at 1:20 p.m. ET and Friday at 8:20 a.m. ET.