AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Tiger Woods finished his first tournament in four months and got some predictable results.
At times, he looked good. Far more often, he looked ordinary. And with no cut in the Bridgestone Invitational, he got in four rounds going into the final major of the year.
Woods lost momentum of a good start by losing his swing in the middle of the round, then pieced it together at the end for an even-par 70 Sunday that left him in the middle of the pack on a Firestone course where he is a seven-time winner.
“I had it in spurts this week,” Woods said. “I hit it really well, and then I’d lose it and get it back.”
Even so, the guy who said he wouldn’t play if he didn’t think he could win found a few positives out of his first time playing golf since May 12 because of injuries, and his first time completing 72 holes since April at the Masters.
“Absolutely encouraged,” said Woods, who finished at 1-over 281. “I hadn’t played. I mean, this is my first tournament since, what, April? So it’s been awhile.”
Woods, 13 shots out of the lead when he began the final round, had birdies on two of his opening five holes when it fell apart in a hurry. He went left off the tee at No. 6, escaped decently into a bunker, then barely got out of the sand chipped long on his way to a double bogey.
So began a stretch in which he missed the fairway on seven consecutive tee shots, a stretch he played in 5-over par.
“I got off to such a great start,” he said. “Then all of a sudden, I just absolutely lost it.”
Woods switched back to a Nike putter – the first three rounds he used the Scotty Cameron he’s had since 1998 – and the improvement wasn’t noticeable. He finished strong with three birdies on his last four holes, starting with a 15-foot putt on the 15th, a wedge to 4 feet on the 16th and a 15-footer on the 17th.
It helped a little, but not enough.
Woods started the week at No. 135 in the FedEx Cup standings, and he is not likely to crack the top 125, the number that gets him into the first round of the playoff series that begin with The Barclays.
He still has the PGA Championship next week in Atlanta, although Woods said he would not play the Wyndham Championship in North Carolina, the final event to qualify for the FedEx Cup, even if he is outside the top 125.
“No, I’m not playing that week, no,” Woods said. “Family obligations.”
That usually means he has custody of his two children, and since Woods has never played in Greensboro, N.C., there was no reason to think he might this year.
Woods conceded he was not tournament sharp.
‘It’s nice for me to get out there in this competitive atmosphere no matter how I was playing just to figure out how to score, because I haven’t been forced to score,” he said. “At home, playing money games with my buddies is just not the same. Being out here and being forced to have to post a score, hit shots … that’s a different deal.”
Next up is the PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club, which starts Thursday.
Woods has been hitting balls on the practice range after his rounds, an indication that his left leg is no longer causing any problems. His biggest obstacle now is time.
He has three days of practice before the final major of the year, and if he doesn’t figure it out in Atlanta, he won’t be playing a PGA Tour event for the next six weeks.
“I’ve got three days,” Woods said. “So I’m going to worry about these three days and apply it accordingly, and be ready come Thursday.”