Tiger struggles in season finale as major future clouded

Tiger Woods struggled to a one-over par 71 in Sunday’s final round of the PGA BMW Championship, looking to improve shotmaking and reduce mistakes before next month’s US Open. 

The 15-time major winner and reigning Masters champion finished 72 holes at Olympia Fields in suburban Chicago on 11-over 291, the first time since the 2010 WGC Bridgestone Invitational he shot four rounds over par in an event.

“I played a little bit better today, which is nice,” Woods said. “I didn’t finish the round off like I wanted to, but I played better than I did the first three days.”

Woods was 2-under through 14 holes but a bogey at the par-5 15th and double bogey after finding water off the tee at the par-4 17th dimmed the thrill of his low round of the week.

World number 17 Woods hit only nine of 14 fairways and just 13 of 18 greens in regulation on a course that played like a US Open layout with fast greens and dense rough.

“Today was more indicative of how I want to play in a couple weeks,” Woods said, looking ahead to the US Open on September 17-20 at Winged Foot in suburban New York.

Woods failed to qualify for the final US PGA playoff event next week at East Lake in Atlanta and said he won’t play the week before the US Open, so the BMW was his last tuneup, with workouts set to emphasize leaving the ball in better places even after errant shots.

Asked his biggest focus ahead of the US Open, Woods said, “I would say trying to clean up my rounds and trying to miss the golf ball in the correct spots. I haven’t done that.”

The 44-year-old veteran of multiple back surgeries says back pain and stiffness remain constant issues.

“It aches every day. It’s always going to ache and always going to be stiff,” he said. “That’s just part of the deal.”

– Rest not rust —

Balancing competitive rounds against the need to rest his body, Woods faces uncertainty about his schedule before he defending the Masters green jacket in November after COVID-19 forced a postponement from April.

“I’d much rather have rest than rust,” Woods said. “Trying to figure out the schedule going forward, when to ramp up, no one has ever seen a schedule like this, but it’s one we all have to deal with.”

The US PGA Tour has already moved the CJ Cup from South Korea to Las Vegas in October and the following week’s event, the Zozo Championship that Woods won last year in Japan, could be shifted to a US course as well, according to multiple reports.

“This has been a year which no one would have expected with all the things that have gone on — with the virus and work stoppage, figuring out when we’re going to play and where we’re going to play,” Woods said.

“It has been a year we would like to forget but this is our new reality going forward.”

This year’s Zozo is set to be three weeks before the Masters, the same gap as the BMW before the US Open.

Woods won his 82nd career US PGA title last year at the Zozo, matching Sam Snead’s all-time tour wins record.

Also in the 2019-20 season, Woods was a player-captain for the triumphant US team at the Presidents Cup last December in Australia. His only other top-10 PGA effort was a share of ninth at Torrey Pines in January.

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