Woods Arrives for the Dell Technologies Championship
NORTON, Mass. – No matter what happens going forward, 2018 will always be memorable for Tiger Woods.
Preparing for the Dell Technologies Championship on Thursday, the second of four FedExCup playoff events, the 42-year reflected on how far he has come.
Starting the season with zero expectations after spinal fusion surgery in April of 2017, Woods didn’t know if his competitive days were behind him and was prepared for the worst.
“This has been one of my best years, considering that I didn’t know what I was going to do; I just didn’t have a clue,” said Woods. “The fact that I’ve been able to make it this far is very encouraging to me. I have a bright future ahead of me because at this point last year, that wasn’t the case.”
Working closely with his doctors and trainers, Woods stuck to a slow rehab plan and progressed steadily. Exceeding his hopes, he has been mostly pain-free and competitive.
After undergoing four back operations, Woods has made many adjustments — physically and mentally. His body has changed, he altered his swing without a coach, has learned to play with new equipment — constantly tweaking – and last but not least, reacclimated himself to the grind and pressure of the PGA Tour.
“The hardest part is I didn’t have an inkling of what this year might be,” said Woods, who turned pro in the summer of 1996. “Normally if I have a good offseason or feel healthy, I can reasonably expect what might happen the following year. This year was a complete unknown.”
In 15 PGA Tour starts, Woods has recorded five top-10 finishes, securing seconds at the Valspar Championship and PGA Championship. He has finished 32nd or better in all but four starts, missing two cuts. Woods led the Open Championship early on the back nine Sunday and made a weekend charge at the PGA, closing with a blistering 64.
Statistically, he ranks 10th on the PGA Tour in scoring average (69.521), No. 26 in the Official World Golf Ranking, and No. 25 in the FedExCup point standings.
Although Woods is still chasing his 80th Tour title, he has no doubt his hard work will be rewarded.
“The thing for me is to just keep getting there in the mix, getting there on the back nine with a chance to win,” he said.
This week marked the anniversary of Woods’ 1996 pro debut at the Milwaukee Open. He tied for 60th and made an ace on Sunday on the 14th hole.
“The last few years seemed like it took centuries,” said Woods. “I was struggling a bit. But just looking back on it, I remember so many shots from my early start in Milwaukee and Canada. It has gone by faster than I would have imagined.”
The top 100 players in the FedExCup points standings qualified this week. When the event concludes Monday, 70 advance to the third leg of the playoffs at the BMW Championship at Aronimink, Sept. 6-9.
Woods hasn’t played at TPC Boston since 2013, but is well-acquainted with the course. His TGR foundation ran the Deutsche Bank Championship for many years.
In nine previous visits, Woods won the tournament in 2006, has two seconds, a third and has only finished outside the top 11 twice. Of players who have compiled at least 20 rounds at TPC Boston, Woods boasts the lowest scoring average at 68.19.
On Thursday, Woods played in the pro-am and familiarized himself with the course. Designed by Arnold Palmer in 2002, it was remodeled in 2007 by Gil Hanse and consultant Brad Faxon. The par-71 layout measures 7,342 yards.
“In general, it sets up for a guy that hits it long and high,” said Woods. “And I’ve done that pretty much my whole career. I’ve played really well on this golf course over the years. Hopefully it will be one of those weeks again.”
Woods took it easy after last week’s Northern Trust, where he tied for 40th, spending time with his kids and tinkered with his putting. He tested a TaylorMade TP Juno blade model on Thursday during the pro-am.
Woods begins the first round at 8:51 a.m. ET on the 10th tee with Marc Leishman and Chez Reavie. On Saturday, they start at 1:16 p.m. ET on the first tee.
Regardless how the year plays out, Woods is thrilled to be back and excited about his future.
“I would have taken this in a heartbeat,” he said.