Tiger Woods has decided to play the Wyndham Championship – the final event of the PGA Tour’s regular season – knowing it’s a case of win or face the end of a miserable campaign.
Woods, playing the tournament for the first time, is hoping to qualify for the FedEx play-offs, but only victory will prevent him from missing the post-season event, which starts at The Barclays in New Jersey next week, for the second season running.
It means so much to the local people to have Tiger Woods in the fieldAdam Scott
“I’ve started to build. I just need to get more consistent with everything, and start stringing together not just holes, not just rounds but tournaments,” Woods said ahead of today’s start of play.
“That’s why this competition’s important to me. Hopefully, I can win it, get into the play-offs and play a bunch of golf.
“If I don’t win this event,” Woods added, “I’ll have my off-season early.”
Woods – at No 187 on the points list – is pretty far off qualification. Only the top 125 players will make it to The Barclays, and recent history seems to be against him. Last year, only one player outside the top 125 – Sang-Moon Bae – earned enough points to move into the play-offs. A 14th-place tie helped him jump from No 126 to No 120. The year before, nobody did it.
But with 300 points available to the winner, Woods, who missed the cut at the US PGA Championship last week, beat last Friday’s deadline to enter the Wyndham, in Greensboro, North Carolina, although he did not finalise his commitment until Monday.
The former world No 1, who said he had “a blast” playing a pro-am round with NBA All-Star Chris Paul yesterday, has endured a terrible time of it this season.
In ten previous events, Woods has missed the cut in four of them and withdrew from another.
He has had three rounds in the 80s, his best finish was a tie for 17th at the Masters and his best week came at The Greenbrier Classic where he finished just six shots off the lead.
Woods is now eager to test his game on the Donald Ross-designed course at Sedgefield Country Club that puts a premium on strong iron play and features fast, undulating Bermuda grass greens that Woods is trying to quickly figure out. During a soggy pro-am, though, the course played a bit differently – with more woods.
“It’s going to be a lot of irons off the tee, but it wasn’t the case because it’s so wet,” Woods said. “Balls are plugging. Lot of mud balls out there.”
Englishman Luke Donald is also chasing play-off qualification, but is in 124th place, followed by Charl Schwartzel, Scott Langley, Seung-Yul Noh, SJ Park and last year’s winner, Camilo Villegas. The top 125 in the standings will also earn 2015-16 tour cards.
“There’s so much to play for,” said Webb Simpson, the 2011 winner who is safely at No 49 on the points list. “It’s definitely on guys’ minds, I think.”
This would rank as one of the best fields in the 76-year history of the tournament, even if Woods had not made his last-minute decision to play Sedgefield.
Adam Scott joins Woods as two of the six former world No 1 ranked players in the field. Until Woods’ late entry, Scott was arguably the biggest attraction for the event. He also was in a pro-am foursome that was immediately behind the one with Woods and Paul, and, with so much of the gallery following them, Scott could go through his round in relative anonymity.
“There’s no doubt about things created by Tiger,” Scott said.
“It happens everywhere he goes. You can tell how passionate the local people and everyone involved in the tournament here are about this tournament, and it means such a great deal to them to have Tiger Woods in the field. I think it’s fantastic.”