Tiger Woods Tour Championship 2012: Slow Progression Will Lead to Timely Success

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistSeptember 20, 2012

CARMEL, IN - SEPTEMBER 09:  Tiger Woods watches his tee shot on the 12th hole during the final round of the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick Golf Club on September 9, 2012 in Carmel, Indiana.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Tiger Woods has gone through some very rough times in recent years, but he is back.

Maybe he isn't, or won't ever be, the iconic Woods we are familiar with, but he's enjoyed a very good year on the golf course. He's won three tournaments and finished in the top 10 of five others.

Most of that can be attributed to his new swing. Finally, the kinks seemed to be ironed out. He's not back to where he used to be, but he doesn't necessarily need to be. It's not even fair to expect that.

Woods enters The Tour Championship behind Rory McIlroy in the FedEx Cup standings. He hasn't won the FedEx Cup since 2009, and it's been a long road back to this point. But he's here, and I wouldn't want to stand in his way.

That's not to say McIlroy isn't playing well too. He's been incredible in the past few months and he's won four tournaments this year. He's the best player on tour right now, and he's got momentum on his side.

However, Woods' experience will play a major factor. McIlroy has never played in this event. Entering as the leader in his first try puts a ton of pressure on him, and Woods could capitalize on one misstep.

Woods finished tied for fourth in the BMW Championship and grabbed third in the Deutsche Bank Championship. If he played one or two holes differently, he could've been in better standing. He hasn't played "bad" golf since he got cut at Greenbrier in early July.

Check out his statistics on PGATour.com. He has the second-best scoring average on the tour, and he's seventh in birdie average. He's regained his driving distance, but he still must work on his accuracy.

While far from perfect, Woods seems to have found his stroke at the ideal time. McIlroy won't say it, but he has to have Woods in the back of his mind. He's an ultra-competitive athlete, and knows that he's ready to win big tournaments again.

This is setting up to be an extremely interesting FedEx finale. If Woods wins, there is no telling how high his stock could rise.

If you've watched Woods play lately, you've had this nagging feeling he's about to do something special. The progression has been slow, but it's been hard to miss.

Woods and McIlroy will duke it out for four days. Expect Woods to get it done.