Archive

New course, maybe new putter for Tiger Woods at National | TribLIVE.com
U.S./World Sports

New course, maybe new putter for Tiger Woods at National

The Associated Press

POTOMAC, Md. — Tiger Woods is playing the Quicken Loans National for the last time, and so much about this year feels new.

Woods played his first 18-hole round at the TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm during the pro-am Wednesday, and it didn’t take long to realize why the course rated as the fourth toughest to par last year on the PGA Tour, behind only three majors.

“It’s certainly a lot more difficult than what I had envisioned,” Woods said. “They’ve got the rough up, fairways in. It’s like a mini-Open here.”

Also new: his putter. Maybe.

Woods has been struggling with just about every aspect of putting since March, when he made a brief charge in the final round at Bay Hill until tying for fifth. He missed the cut at the U.S. Open two weeks ago, and last week in the Bahamas, he began tinkering with a new putter. The one he used in nine holes of practice Tuesday, and in the pro-am, was a mallet variety.

“I’m trying to find something that I can feel again like the swing of the putter, getting my body in the right positions and seeing the lines again,” Woods said. “Once I start to get that ball rolling on my lines, then I’ll be back to putting like I was. I just have not been rolling it on my lines. And then on top of that, when they don’t roll on lines, then I have a hard time seeing my line. It’s a vicious cycle.”

Whether it goes in his bag Thursday remains a mystery.

“Tiger had three putters on the putting green before I walked in here,” Billy Hurley III said.

Woods is the only two-time winner of the National, both times at Congressional a few miles down the road. He hasn’t played the event since 2015 when he was struggling with back issues that eventually led to multiple surgeries and kept him out of golf for the better part of two years.

This is the final edition of a tournament that began in ’07 with high hopes, with Woods as the tournament host at Congressional, held around the Fourth of July with a theme built around saluting the military.

Woods’ career took several unexpected turns a few years later, with surgeries to his knee and back sandwiched around the downfall in his personal life. There was a change in title sponsors, a change in dates and the field gradually became weaker.

Rickie Fowler, who has a corporate deal with Quicken Loans, is the only player from the top 10 competing this week. He checks in at No. 8. Quicken Loans decided not to renew its contract with Woods’ foundation, instead sponsoring a new PGA Tour event in Detroit that starts next summer.

Woods couldn’t find another sponsor, and now there isn’t room on next year’s schedule. His foundation still runs the Genesis Open at Riviera in February and the unofficial Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas in early December.

“The support has been fantastic. We just haven’t got the sponsorship dollars,” Woods said.

He would like nothing more than to end the tournament’s 12-year run by winning for the first time in nearly five years, a reasonable task considering how well he has been swinging the club. The trouble has been getting the putter to cooperate.

“He was away from competitive golf for so long,” Fowler said. “It’s not like you just come right back out and go win a golf tournament. But it’s Tiger. It wouldn’t have surprised me. … He knows how to win, so I’m not worried about him by any means.”


985218500
Getty Images
Tiger Woods looks on while playing in the Pro-Am prior to the Quicken Loans National at TPC Potomac on June 27, 2018 in Potomac, Maryland.
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.