POTOMAC, United States - Tiger Woods produced his best final round since 2012 for a fourth-place finish Sunday at the US PGA Quicken Loans National, a new putter reviving his game ahead of the British Open.
The 14-time major champion fired a four-under-par 66 at TPC Potomac, his lowest final-round score since a 63 at the 2012 CIMB Classic at Kuala Lumpur, for the second-best showing in his comeback season from spinal fusion surgery. "It feels good. Even my bad putts still had the 'go in' look," Woods said. "That's something that I haven't had. When I was struggling there for a little bit, I couldn't even cheer for my good ones."
Woods said his ability to make long putts consistently with his new mallet putter, given its first competitive test this week, has boosted his confidence ahead of his next start at the British Open in three weeks at Carnoustie. "I'm starting to hit some putts. I'm starting to make those putts you're supposed to make from 10, 15 feet, but I'm also making some from outside 20," Woods said. "I haven't done that, as I said, for the better part of two months, so that was nice, to make over 100 feet of putts twice this week. That's a positive sign."
Woods is visualizing putts better, striking the ball with more confidence and showing more signs of the form that has brought him 79 US PGA titles, but none since 2013. "I'm seeing the lines again, I'm rolling the ball on my line, I've got the speed and I really like the swing of this putter," Woods said.
"I rolled the ball well this week. I'm starting to see it, starting to feel it and I had the pace pretty much good all week. The putts I missed, I hit a lot of good ones, which I don't mind because I hadn't been doing that for a while, so this was nice."
Woods even asked National winner Francesco Molinari of Italy about his secret after shooting 62. "I told him pasta," Molinari said. "Pasta is the secret." Woods said he will work on dealing with the winds of Carnoustie that toyed with him at the 1999 Open.
"Basically, just trying to get efficient hitting the golf ball and then getting comfortable hitting the ball down," Woods said. "Carnoustie is an unbelievable driving golf course, you have to drive the ball well there, but it's a lot of different angles, so a lot of different crosswinds. I have to be able to maneuver the golf ball both ways there efficiently. You just have to hit the golf ball well."
It helps to understand the gusting winds might very well blow away any plans you might have as well. "The year we played in '99, I think I made one birdie on the weekend. That was ridiculous how hard it was," Woods said. "I don't know if they're going to have it like that, but you just never know."