PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — For just the second time this year Tiger Woods recorded three rounds in the 60s with a 3-under 68 Sunday at the Quicken Loans National.
If nothing else it was progress and a step in the right direction for the tournament’s host, who missed the cut by seven strokes at St. Andrews the last time he teed it up.
“It was kind of a mixed bag as far as results, but the fact I had total control of the golf ball was nice,” he said.
Woods finished his week 8-under par but had put himself in contention for the first time in a long time, entering the weekend in a tie for fifth, three strokes off the lead as he sought to end a two-year winless drought.
He faded on Saturday with a sloppy 74 that could have been even worse, but following Sunday’s round was pleased with how he bounced back.
“Today I started off well and really hit the ball well and I looked at the whole week in general,” Woods said. “Felt like I made some big strides.”
Early on, he did.
Woods ripped off five birdies in his first 10 holes, including three in a row early on the front nine. He hit every fairway and green over his first seven holes, the former something just a day earlier he failed to do even once in that same stretch.
The back nine, however, was a microcosm of his season: A three-putt bogey from 26 feet on No. 11, a drive into the hazard right of 12 and an approach into the water on the par-5 14th for a third bogey in four holes.
Woods was optimistic about the progress, though.
For the week, he hit a respectable 36 of 56 fairways, 53 of 72 greens and had a couple of days of impressive ball-striking.
Sunday, it helped he said that he went back to basics, addressing issues he had with set-up and address.
“I’m hitting the ball up there with some of the bigger guys again,” Woods said. “I was able to make some putts and the short game (is) becoming good again like it used to be.”
Though Woods was 11 of 19 scrambling for the week, he was 4-for-4 on Friday and made a couple of good saves on the weekend, too.
“Now I got to get a feel for it,” he said. “My short game is starting to come back to where it used to be. Everything is kind of trending in the correct direction now.”
Just how much longer he’ll be able to continue to build momentum is another story.
Woods isn’t eligible for next week’s World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, a tournament he has won eight times. He isn’t in the field for the Barracuda Championship opposite it, either, and with only two more events after that, he is running out of time to qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs.
His next start will come at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in two weeks. The last time he played there in the summer of 2010 he was in a state of transition then, too, having just hired Sean Foley as his swing coach.
But Woods isn’t worried about the short term.
“I’ve got years ahead of me, that’s how I look at it, not just this season,” he said. “I’ve got years and if you would have asked me that back when I had my back surgery I would have probably — I didn’ t really know. That was a rough period in my career and my life. But now I’m on the good side of it.”