The talk of whether Tiger Wood is back to being, well, Tiger Woods will not cease until he wins another major championship. In the meantime, Woods just keeps on winning, which was just what he did before a descent two years ago because of injuries and personal troubles.
Sunday’s final round of the AT&T Nationals at Congressional Country Club outside of Washington, D.C. was a pre-drama effort by Woods. With five players in contention, the 14-time major winner separated himself with a dose of the steady and spectacular. When he was done, he outlasted Bo Van Pelt in the final two holes to shoot a 2-under 69 for his third win on the PGA Tour this year.
“Of course, your confidence wanes,” Woods said of his dark days. “I wasn’t able to practice; I was hurt (knee). And when you’re changing systems. . . it’s going to take time.”
Perhaps that time has come.
The win not only was a testament to what he has done this year, but also over his remarkable career. No one on tour has more wins this season. He is No. 1 on the money list and the FedEx Cup standings for the first time since September 2009. Additionally, Woods moved past Jack Nicklaus into second place for all-time wins with 74. He’s just eight behind career leader Sam Snead.
“It feels great to get to 74 wins and past Jack, to do at 36 years old,” Woods said. “It’s something I’m very proud of.”
Of course, Woods wants majors and some believe he will not “officially” be back until he gets his 15th. He goes for it at the British Open later this month.
But this tournament showed Woods to be at his best, meaning he was rock solid but skilled and patient enough to recover from wayward shots. He hit a spectacular shot on No. 12, when his ball was so close to a tree that he warned the galley that his club might snap after he struck the ball. Well, his club did not snap, although he hit the tree, but he executed a beautiful hook shot onto the green.
On No. 17 , when he was tied with Van Pelt, Woods sank a six-foot par putt to take a one shot lead going into the final hole. He followed that up by piping a drive 345 yards and then squeezing off a beautiful nine-iron from nearly 190 yards into the peninsula green to about 15 feet. He safely two-putted from there for the win.
And so ended a wild week in Washington — record heat Friday, followed by a wind storm that topped dozens of trees at Congressional and forced the tournament to keep spectators out Saturday. They were back in force for the final round, and they were treated to Woods looking like Tiger Woods.
“Some days it’s better than others,” he said. “Itry hard. It’s a game that tests our patience. I’ve been out here 17 years. I understand what it’s like to have to grind and fight. Each shot means something. The first shot of the first day means as much as a shot on the 72nd hole. I’ve always had that mindset.”