SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Tiger Woods pulled off a ridiculously impressive feat in returning from injuries to win for the first time in five years at the Tour Championship, capping a grueling season of re-acclimation work, long range sessions and post-round putting practice.
He promptly jumped on an international flight with less than a day’s rest, played four matches in three days with two partners and tried to help the U.S. Ryder Cup team end a 25-year road losing streak.
Making the team was a big goal of Woods’ and there’s no place he’d rather have been than Le Golf National. But the results were ugly and predictable in hindsight. Woods went 0-4 in the U.S.’ latest loss on foreign soil and his overall record fell to 13-21-3.
“I’m one of the contributing factors to why we lost the Cup, and it’s not a lot of fun,” Woods said. “It’s frustrating because we came here, I thought we were all playing pretty well, and I just didn’t perform at the level that I had been playing.”
There were reasons, of course, despite the fact that critics will cling to the notion his mindset isn’t conducive to team golf. Maybe that was once true, but it’s a lazy narrative this year when there were a lot of factors in play and none having to do with his attitude.
Lack of rest is on top of that list, and Woods seemed completely and totally drained by the time he walked into the media center Sunday for the team press conference. The Ryder Cup was his seventh event in nine weeks and came on the heels of an emotionally-draining victory.
“A lot of big events and a lot of focus, a lot of energy goes into it,” Woods said.
That stretch also included a T-6 at the BMW Championship, and the biggest reason for his FedEx Cup Playoffs success was consistently hitting fairways. Woods was living in the short stuff all month across the East Coast with a reliable high fade off the tee and he couldn’t find it in Paris. It proved costly after he’d squared his singles match with Jon Rahm with an eagle at nine and birdie at 12. Woods missed the fairway and made bogey at both 13 and 14, falling to two down and never recovering.
Woods didn’t get much help at all from partner Patrick Reed, who made just four birdies over 32 holes in the first two four-balls sessions. He also ran into an absolute buzzsaw paired up against Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari for each of his first three matches. The European duo went 4-0 on the week and drained birdie putts at an alarming rate, four of them in 14 holes during a Saturday foursomes win over Woods and Bryson DeChambeau.
Woods really didn’t perform all that bad in Paris, but so much went into career win No. 80 at East Lake. Maintaining that level of play against Europe’s top team with little help and little energy was just too much to ask. Gwk
(Note: This story appears in the October issue of Golfweek.)