Tiger Woods: What His WGC-Bridgestone Performance Means for PGA Championship
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For two days this week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Tiger Woods struggled to find his game. It wasn't an out-of-the-ordinary experience for Tiger in 2012, though. His inconsistent play has become the norm for the 14-time major champion this season.
But who can really argue with the results? Tiger is currently the second-ranked player in the world and he leads the PGA Tour in victories with three. Of course, this is Tiger Woods. A lot of people—most, in fact—expect him to play like the dominant player he was in his prime, the one that claimed 14 majors.
"I hit it good, made nothing," Tiger said after his Friday round of 72 placed him at two-over par, well behind the leaders. "I figured something out finally on the 17th hole, but too little, too late."
Tiger was referring, of course, to his putting woes. And he admitted that he has been going through hot and cold spells with the flat stick this year, but he worked the kinks out of this week's particular malady and the stroke started clicking again.
Tiger hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation and made three birdies in shooting a solid "moving day" round of 68.
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I followed Tiger around the South Course at Firestone Country Club for much of those final two rounds and where I really saw a different player was on Sunday, as a storm-interrupted front-nine 31, complete with four birdies, led to a bogey-free 66.
But, it could've been a lot better. Tiger made nothing but pars on the second nine—easy, tap-in pars for the most part. He clasped his hands on top of his head as he finished his round on the 18h green, seemingly pondering what could've been.
Still, he seemed relatively happy with the results.
"I played well today," Tiger said in his post-tournament comments outside the scorer's trailer behind the 18th green. "I hit a lot of good shots and never really sniffed making a bogey all day. So, that was a good day."
For the week, Tiger was tied for second in greens in regulation, he was 10th in driving distance and he tied for 13th in driving accuracy. He finished the golf tournament tied for eighth place. It was his sixth top-10 finish of 2012.
So, what does this all mean? What can we expect from Tiger in the PGA Championship at the treacherous Kiawah Island Ocean course this week?
"I feel very good about where I'm at," Tiger said. "I'm excited about it."
What else is he going to say?
The truth is, we don't really have a clue. That's just Tiger 2.0 as we know him today. A great performance in one or two rounds or even one tournament doesn't seem to have a direct influence on an event that immediately follows.
This 2012 season has offered several such examples.
Tiger won the Arnold Palmer Invitational two weeks before the Masters, where he then settled for a T-40 finish. Next, after winning the Memorial Tournament, Tiger could manage only a T-21 result at the U.S. Open.
He reversed those fortunes by closing T-3 at the Open Championship after missing the cut at the Greenbrier Classic the week before. But this is Tiger Woods. Anything other than a win at any tournament he plays in is typically considered a failure.
So, bottom line—Tiger Woods played well on the weekend heading into the year's final major. If there's any carryover from the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational to the PGA Championship—as in a victory—I can't say I will be surprised, even though I don't expect it to happen. If it does, though, my gut feeling is the positive vibe could last a while.
David Kindervater is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotations in this article were obtained via press conferences at the media center at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
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