Golf

Progress, perspective and Tiger’s sluggish construct towards the Masters

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Matthew Fitzpatrick had hoped to ask questions, study from the best golfer in his lifetime and take in these treasured moments contained in the ropes surrounded by the mayhem that all the time envelops Tiger Woods.

He obtained an actual style of it Sunday in the course of the closing spherical of the Gamers Championship.

The one different time he had the chance was two years in the past in Dubai, when Fitzpatrick, a former U.S. Beginner champion from England, was grouped with Woods for the primary two rounds of the European Tour occasion that turned out to be the 14-time main champion’s final match earlier than main again surgical procedure.

Tiger Woods stated his final-round 69 on the Gamers Championship has him “proper on observe” as he prepares for the Masters.

One unhealthy gap just about submarined Tiger’s whole week at The Gamers — a 7 on the par three 17th on Friday. We observe his week at The Gamers, and all his actions of 2019.

Rory McIlroy rides two late birdies to carry off Jim Furyk on Sunday and win the Gamers Championship.

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Regardless of a final-hole drive that measured greater than 300 yards and produced a wedge shot to 10 toes, Woods was unable to make a birdie in that spherical of 77 and withdrew the following morning.

It was the top to yet one more aborted comeback from again points for Woods, the total extent of which the world wouldn’t perceive for months, when he had spinal fusion surgical procedure, his profession in jeopardy.

Fitzpatrick, 24, obtained an understanding of how far Woods has come on Sunday.

“He is a participant now who seems like he’ll shoot 6-, 7 below, versus the participant who was scrambling round,” Fitzpatrick stated after the ultimate spherical of the Gamers. “I talked to him about it on the market, and he stated, ‘Yeah, I am fairly a bit completely different to once we performed in Dubai.’

“I used to be like, ‘Yeah, you can say that.’ We have been speaking concerning the flight, and it was 18 hours [from Los Angeles to Dubai], and he stated, ‘I used to be screwed from the second I obtained on the airplane.'”

Woods has by no means fairly put it in these phrases to the plenty, however he undoubtedly was a large number at the moment, one other reminder of the attitude that is essential when assessing his recreation.

Take a deep look into Tiger Woods’ exceptional return to the very best ranges of golf due to never-before-seen content material.

As a result of when you assess him at this level, after a 30th-place end on the Gamers, it is simple to get caught up in the truth that Woods has failed to complete nearer than eight pictures to the winner in any of his 4 begins this yr.

He is had good tournaments, not nice, and if he wasn’t suffering from the placing woes that befuddled him on the Genesis Open and WGC-Mexico Championship, he had different points at TPC Sawgrass, equivalent to a surprisingly mediocre efficiency on strategy pictures — sometimes his energy.

But Woods appeared greater than content material. The neck issues that saved him from the Arnold Palmer Invitational might need been extra blessing than curse, every week off from a grind that will have seen him play 4 instances in 5 weeks.

“I wanted that. I wanted to get that organized,” he stated, referring to the neck pressure and all that got here with it.

“I used to be near getting over the hurdle and getting issues rolling, and sadly I made a 7 [on Friday] over at 17,” he stated, referring to the momentum-killing two balls within the water on the island inexperienced. “I missed just a few putts that I may have very simply obtained the momentum going that would have gotten me on a run. I used to be shut.

“I do know the rating does not actually point out that, however that is a kind of golf programs the place there are some bizarre spots and might be essentially the most disturbing golf course you ever play when there’s wind on the market. It swirls, and you’ve got fairways which might be powerful to hit, after which you’ve gotten the greens which might be powerful to hit and put it in the suitable sections, and when you do not, you are going to be standing in your head hitting some pictures. All in all, I had a stable week.”

Woods had no three-putts, which is an enchancment from six three-putts at each Riviera and Mexico Metropolis.

However he was simply 70th within the subject in strokes gained strategy, an unusually poor quantity for him. Woods hit 52 of 72 greens for the week and had fewer than 30 putts in solely the ultimate spherical.

And but, he had considered one of his finest weeks of the yr off the tee, ending fifth within the subject in strokes gained and taking some confidence with him.

“I am excited the best way I drove it,” stated Woods, who dropped from 11th to 13th on the planet rating. “I drove the ball properly this week. I drove it not fairly as lengthy on the weekend with a bit bit cooler temperatures, however I used to be driving it fairly straight, and I used to be in a position to form the golf ball each methods with all three of my woods, which was good to see.”

It was additionally spectacular that Woods posted his finest spherical of the match in essentially the most attempting situations. A superb little bit of it was performed within the rain, and the temperatures have been cool and blustery. He navigated properly a course that has historically given him matches. (In 17 appearances, Woods has two victories, but additionally seven finishes of 30th or worse.)

Now Woods will get on an everyday schedule of not enjoying consecutive occasions till the top of July. Whether or not that fits him higher stays to be seen, however he appears to consider that much less is extra.

“As I’ve stated, I am not going to play as a lot as I did final yr,” he stated.

Woods is skipping this week’s Valspar Championship, the place he tied for second final yr, as a substitute choosing the WGC-Dell Match Play subsequent week. It’s a match he has not performed since 2013, nor has he performed at Austin Nation Membership or within the round-robin format now utilized by the match.

The potential exists for seven rounds in 5 days for Woods if he have been to make it to Sunday, however that does not appear to hassle him, both.

“I’ve obtained every week off after that,” stated Woods, who will possible spend a while at Augusta Nationwide after the Match Play. “I am hoping I can play all of the matches. That might be nice. I am assured to play three, presumably extra if I play properly, and that is principally like a match.”

For a man who completed 10 strokes again of winner Rory McIlroy and has but to contend this yr, Woods stays assured and upbeat.

Perspective, for positive.

“Tiger was about 100 instances higher than he was in Dubai,” Fitzpatrick stated, evaluating the day they performed two years in the past to Sunday. “He was much more chatty, too.”

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