Tiger Woods: Superstar Must Improve Consistency to Win 2012 Tour Championship

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistSeptember 23, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 21:  Tiger Woods lines up a putt on the 17th green during the second round of the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola at East Lake Golf Club on September 21, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Tiger Woods had a solid third round at East Lake, but he will need to play with more consistency if he wants to win the Tour Championship.

The veteran golfer shot a 67 on Saturday to stay four back of co-leaders Brandt Snedeker and Justin Rose heading into the final round. He is currently tied for seventh, behind popular players like Rory McIlroy, Jim Furyk and Bubba Watson.

If he remains in this position, he will miss out on the big prize of the weekend: the FedEx Cup. Woods started the tournament in second place thanks to consecutive top-five finishes at the Barclays and BMW Championship. However, he will likely need to win the Tour Championship in order to take home the big payday.

For this to happen, he will need to get more consistent in every aspect of his game. 

This has been a hindrance for Woods throughout the season. He has proven he is still capable of great shots, but he is not always able to save himself from bad shots like he could in the past.

When things go well, he can win an entire tournament like he did three times this year. When he misses, he has poor finishes like at the Players Championship and the U.S. Open.

In the current tournament, Woods sandwiched two solid days around a disappointing 73 on Friday. In that second round, the golfer canceled out his four birdies with five bogeys and one double bogey. He struggled to get the ball on the green and did not putt well once he got there.

Even during his impressive 67 in the third round, he was only able to hit fairways with 43 percent of his drives. This forced him to make impressive shots just to save par throughout the day. It is unlikely he will be able to keep this up for much longer.

He has done a decent job at getting greens in regulation throughout the tournament at 68.5 percent, but he cannot afford to give up strokes. With the way the rest of the field is playing, he has little margin for error.

Starting the tournament in the top five of the FedEx standings allows Woods to control his own destiny. He wins the FedEx Cup with a first-place finish at East Lake, but that is also true for Snedeker and McIlory, who are ahead of him with one day remaining.

In the final round, he needs to worry about accuracy. He is not going to win any long-drive contests, but solid shots in the fairway and onto the green will help him move up the leaderboard.

Woods also needs to avoid bogeys that will set himself back. He already has eight holes with scores above par in the tournament. If he can finish with a bogey-free round, he gives himself a chance to pass the talented men in front of him.

No matter what happens, Woods has had a solid year. He won his first three tournaments since 2009 and is second on the season money list. However, people expert more of Tiger. He is a 14-time major champion and is one of the best of all time.

Fans and players know that Woods has the ability to come back and defeat anyone in the field. It is just a question of whether or not he can play with consistency on one of the most important days on the calendar.