OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. – A season that began with victory for Tiger Woods in Japan plummeted into a campaign of mediocrity that came to a silent, disappointing conclusion just south of Chicago.
With a 2-foot putt for par on the 18th hole at Olympia Fields in the BMW Championship on Sunday, Woods completed a 1-over-par 71 that marked his best score in the otherwise dismal week. With rounds of 73-75-72-71, he finished at 11 over par and was 12 shots behind the leaders when he left the grounds and headed home instead of traveling to next week’s Tour Championship in Atlanta, the finale of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
“I didn’t play as well as I wanted to the first couple days,” Woods said. “I certainly haven’t putted as well as I would have liked, and with the scores being as low as they have been, I just haven’t been able to shoot the low scores like I needed to.
“It was me missing the ball in the wrong spots. When I missed in the correct spots I was able to advance in the correct spots, make putts, but if I missed them in bad spots, this golf course will certainly punish you.”
It wasn’t the way Woods thought his 2019-2020 wraparound season would end seeing as he dominated his peers when winning the Zozo Championship in the land of the rising sun last October and then was the best player in the Presidents Cup in December in Australia when he also captained the U.S. to a win.
But after resuming his season with a tie for ninth in the Farmers Insurance Open in January, Woods made only five more starts as he dealt with issues with his troublesome, fused back.
The results weren’t pretty – 68th in the Genesis Invitational, a tie for 40th in the Memorial, a tie for 37th in the PGA Championship, a tie for 58th in last week’s Northern Trust and a tie for 51st in the BMW Championship.
“It’s been a very awkward year for all of us, with (COVID-19) and not having to play,” Woods said. “The majors moved around, question mark on if we’re going to play the Tour, when we’re going to play the Tour, guys testing positive. It’s been a difficult year and difficult season for anyone involved in the sport of golf.
“This year was certainly one that I don’t think any of us will ever forget.”
Woods would like to overlook most of his play in the BMW Championship.
He made nine birdies – none of them on either of the two par-5s – posted 13 bogeys, two double-bogeys and one triple bogey.
He didn’t break par in any of the four rounds. The last time that happened? Head back to the 2010 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone in Ohio, where he shot 74-72-75-77 and tied for 78th in a field of 81.
Still, Woods drew on a few positives.
“Today was nice,” he said. “I hit the ball really well and made only a couple putts, but today was more indicative of how I want to play in a couple weeks.”
That would be in the U.S. Open at rugged Winged Foot in New York. His four trips around Olympia Fields provided a jump on his preparation for the U.S. Open, as the course raised the possibility of the winner finishing over par.
Winged Foot will raise the same prospect.
“This golf course was basically a U.S. Open, with the rough being as high as it is and fairways a little bit narrow,” Woods said. “I don’t think that we’ve seen scores like this in a non-major in a very long time. This was a great ramp-up for me for the U.S. Open. I wish I was playing next week, but I’ve got a couple weeks off.”
Woods will rest for a few days before returning to the gym and golf course. He might make another reconnaissance trip to Winged Foot – he played there last week before heading to the Northern Trust.
And he’ll work on a few aspects of his game.
“I would say trying to clean up my rounds and trying to miss the golf ball in the correct spots,” Woods said. “I haven’t done that. It was nice playing a practice round (at Winged Foot) and knowing what I have to deal with. I won’t be able to play on rye until I get to the U.S. Open, so these last two weeks were very nice to play on rye before I head back home and practice on Bermuda.”
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