Woods Finishes Tied For 11th At The Players
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The finish stung, but not the weekend. Tiger Woods still has game and an 80th PGA Tour victory seems inevitable.
No one was catching Webb Simpson at the 45th Players Championship. He started Sunday’s final round at the Stadium Course at the Tournament Players Club with a seven-shot cushion and cruised to a four-shot victory.
But Woods created the most excitement. After narrowly surviving the cut, he blazed a season-best 7-under-par 65 on Saturday and got it going again Sunday. Woods toured the front nine in 4-under 32 and jumped into a tie for second with back-to-back birdies at 11 and 12.
The gigantic gallery following Woods and Jordan Spieth could hardly contain themselves. Could the 42-year-old Woods REALLY pull this off?
Ultimately, he couldn’t. Woods pulled within four shots of Simpson, but that was as close as he got.
Woods just missed a good birdie try at 13, then was undone again at the par-4 14th. After crushing a 354-yard drive in the fairway, Woods spun a sand wedge off the front of the green and sustained his first bogey of the day when his 8½-footer horse-shoed around the cup.
It was a comeback-killer and zapped his momentum. Woods was unable to capitalize on good birdie opportunities at 15 and 16, then splashed a pitching wedge into the water at the par-3 17th and suffered a double-bogey
“It was blowing downwind, and then unfortunately it switched in my face,” Woods said.
After two quality shots at the par-4 18th and another near-miss birdie, a composed
Woods said his final score wasn’t reflective of his good play.
“I played so well this weekend,” he said. “Unfortunately, I just didn’t cash in.”
Woods finished with a 3-under 69 and tied for 11th at 11-under 277. Simpson (73) finished at 18-under 270.
For Woods, there were many positives. He drove it well, dialed in his new irons, and putted beautifully the last two rounds.
“I felt good in basically every facet of my game,” said Woods, after posting his third top 11 showing in eight starts on the PGA Tour this season and fifth top 12 in the last 13 months world-wide.
Woods needed just 10 putts on the front nine and used 27 for the second straight day.
“It’s just a matter of seeing a couple go in and all of a sudden the lid pops off,” he said.
It’s not a stretch to say Woods could have chipped six or seven shots off his 10-under weekend total.
“I hit it so good,” said Woods. “I felt like I had control.”
Paired with Spieth on a weekend for just the second time, Woods got off to a flying start for the second consecutive day. He birdied the par-3 third by rolling in a 15-footer, made it from four feet at the fourth and 17 feet at the fifth. He almost made it four in a row, but just missed from 14-feet at the sixth.
Woods made two nifty up-and-down par saves from greenside bunkers at the par-4 seventh and par-3 eighth holes. He sunk a seven-foot putt at the seventh, then a six-footer at the eighth. At the latter, Woods wisely took advantage of the green slope by blasting his downhill sand shot well past the hole, and the ball rolled back, his only realistic chance to get it close.
At the par-5 ninth, Woods’ second shot wound up pin-high to the right of the green in the rough, leaving a tricky downhill, 30-yard shot through moguls to a tight pin. He did well to flop a 60-degree wedge onto the front edge of the putting surface and was fortunate the ball didn’t roll backward. Then Woods drained the birdie putt.
He gave himself another great birdie chance at par-4 10th but couldn’t convert from just inside eight feet. Woods flushed two nice shots at the par-5 11th, reaching the green in two from 221 yards with a 5-iron. He 23-foot eagle try grazed the hole but resulted in an easy birdie.
Had Woods not played his final nine (front) 1-under on Friday, he wouldn’t have been around on Saturday and Sunday. Because he did, Woods found something and hopes to build on it.
“I turned it around and got it rolling,” he said. “I got my feels and know what I’m going to do in a tournament. This weekend was more like it.”
Woods rose from 92nd to 80th in the Official World Golf Ranking. He’ll also move to 48th in the FedExCup standings.
Spieth was impressed.
“He’ll win sometime soon enough,” said Spieth. “He’s certainly playing well enough to do it.”