CHARLOTTE – Dads take on a certain tone of voice when they divulge a plan. It’s very direct, presumably to instill confidence in said plan.
One dad put it in use speaking to his young daughter when a sliver of space opened up along the ropes as a man in red approached the second green Sunday at Quail Hollow.
“We’re gonna walk down here,” he said. “And we’re gonna see the greatest golfer in the world.”
Tiger Woods is no longer the greatest golfer in the world. He is a very good golfer in a world filled with fans who aren’t ready to let go of the Woods they remember.
There were few reminders at the Wells Fargo Championship, where Woods suffered his worst putting week of the season and failed to make a birdie in the final round. It was his first birdie-free round since 2014 and left him over par for a week in which his ballstriking was spot on.
“I was in the correct spots,” said Woods, who shot 2-over 286. “I just didn’t hit good putts, and on top of that, the ones I did hit well, I didn’t have enough speed on them. It’s just one of those weeks and I’m on to the next week, which is nice. That’s one of the great things about golf is that once the tournament’s over, you’re on to next week.”
It was just the second time in Woods’ career that he was unable to make a birdie in the final round, matching an unwelcome feat from a final-round 78 at the 2014 WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral.
Lots of work to do on greens
Woods needs to figure out his flatstick in a hurry ahead of the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, where the spotlight will be even brighter in Rounds 1-2 in his pairing with Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler.
He figures to putt better there considering his familiarity with the course. Woods last played Quail Hollow in 2012, and his best putting rounds this year have all come on some of his favorite tracks.
He was inside the top 20 in stokes gained: putting at Torrey Pines, PGA National and Bay Hill. He was 39th while playing Innisbrook for the first time as a professional at the Valspar Championship, but he pulled off a runner-up finish due to his superior iron play.
Woods set season highs in strokes gained: off-the-tee (2.997) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (4.530) at the Wells Fargo, which illustrates just how uncomfortable he was around the greens while finishing T-55.
Next week he returns to a place where he’s won twice, in 2001 and 2013, on a course that heavily rewards shot-making.
“I know the golf course, which is nice, and I know what to expect there,” Woods said. “I’ve played well in spurts there, I’ve had two wins. Really looking forward to getting there and getting a little bit of homework on the golf course, but I’m very pleased with the way I’m swinging. It’s just a matter of making sure I get the right speed for those greens, because it’s going to be a little bit quicker than it was here.”
Woods could only shake his head as he slowly walked off the 15th green Sunday following a three-putt bogey, but his temper never really flared up on the afternoon. He seemed like he just wanted to get out of here, toward greens more to his liking where his soaring drives and solid approach shots won’t go to waste.
“It was just a bad week,” Woods said. “Wipe your hands clean and go on to the next one.” Gwk