Patient Tiger Woods' turnaround boosts confidence
Struggling tournament host Tiger Woods recovered from another woeful start with a back-nine birdie binge Thursday to spark some confidence that the form which won 14 major titles might return consistently.
Former world number one Woods opened with bogeys on three of his first four holes but rallied to start the back nine with four consecutive birdies to fire a three-under par 68 to share 27th at the US PGA Quicken Loans National.
"It was nice to actually turn it around," Woods said. "I felt like I hit the ball well enough. I didn`t do anything different. I said stay patient and it will turn, which it did and I mean I had a run there."
Woods said he turned a so-so round into a good one better than he has since he shared 17th at the Masters, his best showing of the year.
"You`ve got to score and I made a lot of key putts," Woods said. "The last time I did it is probably Augusta."
Woods denied rumors he has split with swing coach Chris Como, who is not at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club this week, and took his first look ahead at 2016 Rio Olympic golf, in which he was once expected to star but now at 266th in the rankings is almost certain to miss.
"I don`t have to worry about the Olympics right now. It`s not really a concern of mine," Woods said. "Some of the top players, there`s going to be a schedule concern. Right now that`s not the case for me. It`s going to be interesting to see what players, do how they pace themselves."
Next season`s schedule, announced Thursday, has only two weeks between the British Open and PGA Championship and only two weeks between that and Olympic golf, with US PGA playoffs and Europe`s defense of the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine to follow in short order.
"Don`t forget on the backside of it we still have the Ryder Cup," Woods said. "It`s going to be a lot of events all in a row with very little rest. A lot of Euros have to play their home Open. It`s doubly tough for them."
Asked if he still worked with Como, Woods said, "Yeah, is there a problem?"
Woods, chasing the record 18 career majors won by Jack Nicklaus, has not claimed a major crown since the 2008 US Open.
Woods, whose 79 career PGA titles are only three shy of Sam Snead`s all-time record, has not won any event since the WGC Bridgestone Invitational two years ago.
In his most recent starts, Woods missed the cut at the US and British Opens and shared 32nd at the Greenbrier Classic.
Having struggled most of last year due to back surgery and this year with swing changes, Woods looked set for more troubles early.
Woods lipped out a four-footer for par at the first, found the rough with his approach at three and missed a 12-foot par putt at the fourth.
But he birdied the par-5 fifth and eighth holes and caught fire at the turn, dropping a nine-foot birdie putt at the 10th, a seven-footer at the par-3 11th and landing his approach inches from the cup at the 12th.
Finding a bunker off the 13th tee looked to end his run, but Woods blasted out to 12 feet and sank the putt. He found the sand again off the par-5 14th tee and began a run of pars into the clubhouse.