Tiger Woods shows FedEx Cup Playoffs improvement, talks training

Sep 10, 2018; Newtown Square, PA, USA; Tiger Woods plays a shot from the sand trap on the 14th hole during the final round of the BMW Championship golf tournament at Aronimink GC. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Tiger Woods shows FedEx Cup Playoffs improvement, talks training

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Tiger Woods shows FedEx Cup Playoffs improvement, talks training

NEWTON SQUARE, Pa. – Tiger Woods got better in each of the first three FedEx Cup Playoff events.

He had his first real chance to win one Monday in the final round of the BMW Championship and came up a little short with the putter.

He also played his way into the Tour Championship with plenty of breathing room and goes into East Lake ranked 20th in the standings. Look at the quality of players just outside the top 30, Jordan Spieth among them, and there you’ll see what an amazing year this continues to be for Woods.

“To make the Ryder Cup team and get back to East Lake, that was a pretty big goal at the beginning of the year,” Woods said. “To be able to accomplish that is something I’m very proud of.”

Woods shot 5-under 65 to finish strong at Aronimink Golf Club, where he was T-6 for the week after shooting 17-under 263. His swing was worthy of a multi-shot win but he again missed key birdie chances throughout the week.

Even though Woods prefers tougher conditions this is the second time over the last month he’s nearly gotten it done in a birdie-fest, including the PGA Championship at Bellerive.

The greens were even more gettable in Philadelphia due to heavy rain that pushed the tournament to a Monday finish, and Woods was up for it. He was much better than a T-40 showing in New Jersey and sharper still from his T-24 at TPC Boston.

He opened with an 8-under 62 in scorching hot conditions and finished on a dreary, gray Monday morning in his bright red Nike sweater.

Woods has a consistent swing now, one he’s used to pummel fairways and greens over the past three weeks across the East Coast. Switching his driver shaft going into the Northern Trust was the last piece of the equipment puzzle, he said. Finally he was comfortable with his new fused back and new swing and in the playoffs he found all the specs to match.

This was a good week for Woods, who was named to the Ryder Cup team and will have some time to rest ahead of the Tour Championship and matches at Le Golf National. Atlanta and Paris were very far away when Woods began the year practicing at home in Jupiter, Fla.

He got there with a swing he cobbled together throughout the season and racked up six top-10 finishes as a result. The process led to setbacks, but he got better each month.

Woods is at the finish line now. A long year is over and he’s ready to reap the rewards with his American teammates, hopefully do something that hasn’t been done in 25 years ( a U.S. win on foreign soil). Then he’ll have around three months off and it’s already tempting to wonder how much better he can get in 2019.

All year he’s been hinting at it, slipping in comments about how hard this year has been. As the leaders played their final few holes Monday at Aronimink, he gave one of his most telling answers yet about his prospects for next season.

“I need to start really lifting and getting after it,” Woods said of his offseason. “Playing every single week, it seems like every single day is maintenance at this point. War of attrition. What you do in the offseason is what allows you to maintain it through the year, especially on the backside of the year, and I really didn’t train for all this because I didn’t know how much I was going to be playing. I was just trying to play.”

For a while it looked like the BMW might be cut short much earlier than planned.

Sunday’s forecast was bleak, the sky was dark and future forecasts didn’t look much better. Maintenance crews tried to maintain something playable, just to get through the week. The rain didn’t fall quite as heavily and through hard work and some luck we were able to see this thing through to completion.

It was still sprinkling on and off by the time Woods finished up Monday afternoon, but the bulk of the storm had passed and there were brighter days ahead. Gwk

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