Tiger Woods shoots 66 at The Northern Trust, but lacks energy from fans

NORTON, Mass. – Although golf has been around for more than two months, and Tiger Woods has played three events since the sport’s resumption after the coronavirus forced closure, he admitted after his final round 66 at The Northern Trust that he is still trying to to adapt to this new reality of life on the PGA Tour.

On Sunday, again playing hours before leader Dustin Johnson started out and reunited with Rory McIlroy, Woods opened with four consecutive birdies and had almost an eagle had he made an 11-foot putt after riding the fourth par-4.

Under normal circumstances – and despite the fact that he was still 17 shots from the lead at that point – a start like that would have TPC Boston roaring.

“Obviously the energy is nowhere near the same,” said Woods, who finished at 6 under for the event, near the bottom among those who made the cut. “There’s not the same amount of fear and pressure and people screaming at you and trying to take your shirt, a hat off of you. This is a very different world we live in.

“You get good shots and you come up with nice little runes, we don’t have the same energy … the same fan energy. It’s different. Normally you might have like a Thursday or Friday morning round if there’s no one here. Against ‘ the time you take turns, people start coming around. But it’s been so far from the word go. And yes, it’s very different. “

In fact, with the lack of fans, Woods revealed that he probably lost a bit of an edge he held over much of the field. The usual swarm of people on every tee, fairway and green when he is on the course does not currently exist. For a long time, playing partners – those next to him and those who played in front of or behind him – had to deal with the uprising that comes with thousands of people following every move.

“Absolutely,” Woods said when asked if he had been given an advantage amidst the silence in these spectator-free events. “Anyone who’s played for thousands of people, it’s very different. Usually between 20,000 and 40,000 people crying and crying. That’s always been one of the things I’m used to.

“The boys who played handball with me, who are not used to it, have only experienced one round here and there. That’s every round I’ve played for over two decades. That advantage, for me and some of the other top players who have been here for a while who have experienced it, try to deal with all that sound and the movement, that experience is no more. “

There would have been a lot of noise and movement if there had been a crowd on Sunday morning. Woods knocked his approach within 3 feet at the first hole for a tap-in birdie. His eagle putt at the par-5 second just slides through the hole, leading to another easy birdie. After a safe tee shot on the long par-3 third hole, he rolled in a 45-foot to keep the birdie track through. Then, on the fourth par-4, he hit a laser tee shot that shot 11 feet from the hole for another eye-catcher. That putt for eagle, like the one on the second, would not fall, but it led to another kick-in birdie.

“I felt I hit the ball better,” said Woods, who had played two odd rounds, including a sloppy 2-over 73 with McIlroy on Saturday, after opening the week with a 3-under 68 on Thursday . “I put better. Everything was cleaner and better today. It was good.”

After an aggressive play on the seventh par-5 – he hit driver of the fairway on his second shot – led to another birdie, his momentum was stopped for a moment with a bogey on the eighth. He rebounded with a birdie in the ninth, then placed nine consecutive presses to close out his week.

“Just wish I had kept the round a little longer,” Woods said. “I had some pretty little eagle looks on the first nine. … It could have been one of those really low rounds, but I’ll take 5 under.”

Now it’s moving on to the second week of the FedEx Cup playoffs – the BMW Championship, which kicks off Thursday at Olympia Fields just outside Chicago. Because Woods did not have a high finish at The Northern Trust, he will likely be at the bottom of the points list among the 70 players who qualify. That means, to advance to the season-ending Tour Championship, which only takes the top 30, he has to do serious work next week.

“My body feels pretty good,” Woods said. “This is going to be a long way anyway. I wish I would have played a little better this week to make the new week a little easier to try. [the Tour Championship at] East Lake, but this will be – if I play well – four of the five weeks. That it will be a busy stretch on both sides. “

After the tournament championship, Woods would undoubtedly skip the Safeway Open and be ready for the US Open, the second big year of the year, beginning on September 17 at Winged Foot.

Like all other events since back in June, the US Open will be played without fans, which means more quiet for Woods and the field. At least he didn’t go down without explaining himself first.

“I’ve played against thousands of people since I became a pro 24 years ago,” Woods said. “It’s always been weird when I’ve not played for people. And you know, one way it’s been nice between tees not to tap my shoulder or get a hand out of my pocket. Those are things I have. had to go around for a while. “