Wednesday, 20 February, 2019

Tiger Woods is Putting on a Clinic at the Tour Championship

Sep 23 2018 Atlanta GA USA Tiger Woods fans look on during the final round of the Tour Championship golf tournament at East Lake Golf Club. Mandatory Credit Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports Tiger Woods earns cheers praise from wide world of sports with victory Butch Dill USA TODAY Sports
Kristopher Love | 23 September, 2018, 08:53

ATLANTA-Some five years, one month, and three weeks have passed since Tiger Woods last sat atop a 54-hole leaderboard, a span that would be unfathomable for a man of his talents and accomplishment were it not so well-documented.

For so long, and in so many instances, the story could already be written, with just the mundane details yet to be filled out. Between a strong showing in the last two majors of the season and a small field at East Lake - meaning Woods doesn't have to fend off as much competition down the stretch - he's in good shape. Given multiple chances to break through the victory ceiling he's failed to deliver the way he did before injury and multiple back procedures.

He has never been in better position to show he's all the way back from four back surgeries that once made him fear he might never play again. A flip wedge to 12 feet and two putts later, he was back in a tie with Rose.

The last was perhaps his most crushing loss.

Woods held a share of the lead entering the third round of the Tour Championship Saturday.

That is likely a reminder to Woods that nothing is certain, especially now.

He's third in driving accuracy (27 of 42), first in Strokes Gained: Putting (+5.104), first in both scrambling (14 of 18) and second in sand saves (6 of 7).

How does he handle it? More significant is his position at the head of affairs; history tells us Woods does not slip up from here. The guy, although he hasn't won for a long time, I'm sure it's going to be hard for him tomorrow. "I think I've been in those spots enough times that muscle memory, I remembered it and I felt comfortable in those spots", he said. He settled for a 65, the lowest score of the day. After starting the day tied for the lead with Justin Rose, Tiger quickly separated himself from the pack with a birdie at the first. "And the next thing you know, I was off and running".

"This is a grinder's golf course". Another at the 16th.

Other than the Valspar Championship, in which he trailed by one heading into the final round and ended up finishing tied for second behind Paul Casey by a single shot, Woods has been fighting from well behind in his other top-10 finishes.

This is the first time Woods will be competing in the Tour Championship for years after returning to top form this season.

Justin Rose, who played with Woods on Saturday, is ranked No. 1 in the world for a reason.

"It's a little more unknown now", Rose said, when asked if it felt different to chase Woods on Sunday these days than in years past. He's seen plenty of the 14-time major champion over the years and is just as curious as the rest of us as to how it will play out.

Injury issues and personal problems have plagued his career over the years but, while a win on tour has still alluded him, he looks close to his best.