NORTON, Mass. – It was quiet late Saturday afternoon on the 14th green at TPC Boston as Tiger Woods lined up a 25-foot birdie putt. A massive roar pierced the air before Woods took a swipe at it.
Huge props to anyone who guessed that Bronson Burgoon of all people produced it with a 139-yard hole out for eagle at 17.
Everyone on the course was revved up at that point. Thousands of well-lubricated fans with a certain Bostonian edge made for a great atmosphere, and they went silent again after the outburst a few steps south of the 14th green.
Woods answered Burgooon’s hole out by draining that 25-footer to get to 4 under on the round and it was very loud again.
The final four holes passed in a rowdy blur, with Woods adding a birdie at the happening 17th.
When it was over Woods signed his best card since the final round of the PGA Championship, a 5-under 66 and second bogey-free 18 holes in his last four rounds. The Tour won’t be back here until 2020 and Woods knew the stage was set for a special afternoon.
“They were into it before we even played today,” Woods said. “You could hear roars going around the golf course when we were on the range warming up.”
Woods was 11 shots off the lead and near the cut line at that point, but five hours later he was 4 under for the week and seven shots behind outright leader Webb Simpson. He has an outside chance to get back in the hunt, and he’s making life easier on himself by staying inside the ropes.
Woods was again a fairway machine Saturday, hitting 12 of 14. One of those was at the drivable par-4 fourth, where he ended up just short and left of the green. The other miss, with a driver at 13, wasn’t by much and he ended up with par. Overall, Woods hit seven drivers, five fairway woods and two irons off the tee.
His newfound control has eliminated costly bogeys, and he’s T-3 in driving accuracy this week. Rounds in the low-to-mid 60s are always in play for Woods when he’s hitting fairways at that clip.
“It’s come along,” Woods said of his swing. “I’m keeping the ball in play a little better. … I think that’s probably the biggest difference. The last couple of tournaments I’ve driven the ball so much better and given myself better chances.”
Woods didn’t jump on those chances in New Jersey because he couldn’t make any putts, but the stroke looks great this week with a new TaylorMade Juno blade-style prototype in the bag. He’s 14th in strokes gained putting (3.029) and had two birdie tries lip out on Saturday.
“I really rolled it on my lines,” Woods said. “A couple didn’t go in, but it was a good, solid day all around.”
Woods started the day on the Tour Championship bubble, projected to fall outside the top 30 after a 1-over 72 Friday. Now he’s projected 27th and can make it even more comfortable going into the BMW Championship with a solid weekend.
Big picture, it wouldn’t have been the worst time for Woods to have an off day and miss the cut. He’s looking at a stretch of five potential tournaments in six weeks, including the Ryder Cup, and he’s at a point where he’s struggling to balance practice time while giving his body a break.
But Woods doesn’t miss cuts and he hasn’t had his fill of Sundays in contention yet this season. All he wants to do is get back to that point as many times as possible and figure out the other stuff on the fly, which has been the modus operandi all year.
“I’ve got some work to do still,” Wood said. “This is a golf course you can’t sit still on. You’ve got to keep making birdies, you have to keep getting after it. Conditions are going to be like this the rest of the weekend and you’re going to see plenty of birdies out there.”