GAINESVILLE, Va. – Just two weeks ago, Tiger Woods was being asked about retirement.
After two rounds at the Quicken Loans National, it’s clear Woods is not ready to hang up the spikes just yet.
Woods went out early Friday and followed up an opening 68 with a 5-under 66 to sit just one stroke off the early second round lead.
"Overall, I hit the ball really well today," Woods said. "I was very pleased with that and made a few putts, but also I missed a bunch, too. This could have been one of those really low rounds ... I'm in a good spot heading into the weekend."
It’s a spot Woods has been missing from for most of the last year and a half as he’s gone under another swing change with instructor Chris Como. Woods denied rumors the duo were breaking up, and Como was observing Woods on the range before he headed off for his second round.
With the exception of one drive, the 2015 version of Woods looked like the 2005 version on Friday. He was pounding drives, twirling his club, throwing darts into greens and sending the crowds into hysteria with birdie after birdie.
“It’s a great atmosphere,” Woods said.
Lately the hooting and hollering has been replaced with groans and even laughter as Woods’ game had sunk to unimaginable depths.
There was the chipping yips and an 82 in Phoenix. “Glutegate” and a WD at Torrey. The 85 at Memorial. Missed cuts at the U.S. Open and the Open at St. Andrews, his favorite course in the world.
It certainly looks like Woods has found something here at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, a course he hadn’t competed on since the 2005 Presidents Cup. But before we go handing Woods the trophy, he still has to make it through two rounds with a swing that’s very fragile.
Woods kept the “oh my gosh!” swings under control for most of his round, except for his drive on the par-5 14th, his fifth hole of the day.
“Big, high draw that went about 90 yards,” Woods joked.
It was only one swing, but it’s further evidence that Woods hasn’t shaken the swing demons off his shoulders.
“I don’t need to think about positioning and have the club in this position, that position, that kind of thing,” Woods said when asked if he still has technical thoughts on the course. “It’s more feels for certain shapes I’m going to hit.”
Woods admitted earlier this week the combination of recovering from back surgery and switching swings from Sean Foley to Como was the perfect storm that’s led to his struggles.
“It’s not that long ago I was Player of the Year,” Woods said. “I know my ranking is awful, but it’s a matter of obviously I was away from the game for a long period of time, plus playing poorly compounded it, and I just need to keep playing and keep plugging along. Eventually I’m climb back.”
He’s put himself in position for a chance this weekend to completely turn around his season. If Woods were to win, he would get into next week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on a course – Firestone –where he’s won eight times. And he would also get himself into the FedEx Cup playoffs.
As Woods has proven through two rounds, you can’t count him out just yet.