Two weeks ago he struggled with his driver and hit less than 44 percent of the fairways at the Wachovia Championship. Yet he tied for third, finishing just one shot out of the playoff won by Joey Sindelar.
Sunday he did it again. This time his accuracy off the tee was even worse. He hit only three of 14 fairways Sunday at the EDS Byron Nelson Championship. Still he missed the three-man playoff by one shot again.
The winner was a budding Woods nemesis, Spains Sergio Garcia.
Talk about role reversal. For much of this year Woods has played like Seve Ballesteros, the player Garcia was supposed to become when he burst on the European golf scene as a gamin-like teenager in the 90s.
Woods has been getting up and down from the parking lot just like Spains Ballesteros used to day back in the day when he was winning two Masters and two Open Championships.
It has been frustrating for Woods and very much not his style. But the fact that he has been so wild off the tee while searching to regain the form that made him such a dominant player in 2000, when he won three majors and six other events, has opened another door.
And through that door we have seen how truly remarkable his short game is and how spectacular his putting can be when he knows he needs both to keep him near the top of the leaderboard.
There was a time, not all that long ago, when players would know they could only miss so many shots if Woods was in the field. It was a kind of intimidation that started with the first shot on Thursday and didnt abate until late Sunday or until that player was hopelessly behind Woods.
This week in Texas Garcia was the player everybody was watching. He hit all 18 greens Saturday at the TPC Four Seasons and 13 of 14 fairways. By the time the 54-hole dust had settled Garcia had a three-shot lead.
It appeared the swing changes he had been working on for more than a year were finally bearing fruit. Garcia had dropped from No. 12 to No. 95 on the money list last year. And after shooting a finally round 66 at the Masters in April to finish fourth, he grew testy with the media instead of celebrating his round.
After Saturdays round he had calmed down. Its nice to see how much consistency Ive gotten from all that practicing. Its just a matter of waiting for itI really feel like I should be leading by quite a bit more.
For his part, Woods put on the brave face. I could have slipped it away and shot myself right out of the tournament, he said after a Saturday 70. It marked the second week in a row Woods had led after 36 holes only to fall back after 54. Going into Sundays final round he trailed Garcia by three.
A drive in the rough prevented him from making a birdie on the 72nd hole. We will see Tiger next early next month at The Memorial. Stay tuned.
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