A rise of 29 places in the world rankings is a cause of celebration these days, so well done Tiger Woods, who scaled the heights to No 256, courtesy of a first top 10 finish of the season.
The Wyndham Championship is one stop too far for the PGA Tour A-listers, a last opportunity for the rank and file to claim a spot at the lucrative Fed-Ex season finale. This is the company Woods keeps at this stage of his career.
This was his first appearance at the event, which is a fair reflection of his fall. He entered in pursuit of the win that would have gained him entry into the Barclays this week, the first of the four play-off tournaments that close the PGA Tour season.
Woods began the final day harbouring sincere hopes, just two off the lead. Not only did he fail to post a first victory in two years, his creaking hips shot ribbons of pain around his torso and the chunked chip returned. The triple-bogey seven at the 11th featured two duffed chips in succession, the first knifed mortifyingly across the putting surface.
Yet this was not the catastrophe of winter, when his technical failings around the greens forced him to withdraw from the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. Woods responded on this occasion with a hat-trick of birdies, plus one with which to sign off at the 72nd hole. The four shots he shipped at the 11th and 12th were precisely the difference to the winner Davis Love, who ensured his passage to the Fed-Ex play-offs with the victory.
Woods will not be seen again until the PGA Tour season restarts in October, by which time he hopes to have resolved his fitness issues and refined his game to a point that enables him to compete once more free of pain and embarrassment.
“I gave myself a chance and I had all the opportunity in the world today to do it. I didn’t get it done,” was Woods’ reaction. There was little else to add at the end of his worst year as a professional. There has been progress but, the Masters apart, in the tournaments that matter Woods has not been up to the challenge.
He turns 40 in December, which might not be so forbidding were he not limping into his fifth decade. Woods would not elaborate on his sore hip, claiming only that it would not have kept him out of the Barclays had he made the field.
Nevertheless, no golfer in the world communicates discomfort so frequently and so obviously. That the laboured movements always coincide with poor strokes is either a sign that his body is giving up or his patience is.
With Woods in the Wyndham field, the gate increased by 50,000 across the week. He remains a draw for now, but one more season like this and interest will follow the same trajectory as his credibility.
Effectively, Woods has the winter to restore his fitness to a manageable level and find the keys to his game. Failing that, he will need to find something else to do with his time.Reuse content