With 36 holes to go in the 2017-18 PGA Tour season, Tiger Woods (Bridgestone Tour B XS) has a chance to win the FedEx Cup Tour Championship.
If anyone predicted this at the start of the season, they would have been called dreamers.
With two rounds to go in the tournament at East Lake Golf Course in Atlanta, Woods is tied for first at seven-under par with Justin Rose (TaylorMade TP5). Rory McIlroy (TaylorMade TP5x) is hovering two strokes back, while my pre-tournament pick, Billy Horschel (Titleist Pro V1x), is three back.
There is plenty of time and holes for players to make their mark, but ultimately the field is chasing Tiger.
The fact he has gutted it out through 17 tournaments this season and made the cut in 15 would have been enough of an accomplishment coming off the back surgeries that were designed more to give him a quality of life than a chance to play competitively.
That he has posted two runner up finishes, one of those being the PGA Championship, and six top-10 finishes is truly amazing.
That he qualified for the FedEx Cup Tour Championship and is tied for the lead with 36 holes to go is beyond surreal.
For all the stories that have happened in this PGA Tour season – Phil Mickelson (Callaway Chrome Soft X) stopping a rolling putt; Tony Finau (Titleist Pro V1) seemingly dislocating an ankle in the Masters Par 3 contest and putting it back in place; Brooks Koepka (Titleist Pro V1x) defending his U.S. Open title and winning two of the four majors; and Bryson DeChambeau (Bridgestone Tour B X), winning three tournaments, including the last two FedEx Cup playoffs – this is really the year of the Tiger.
If he was to win the Tour Championship, which would be the third of his career, Woods’ comeback would be among the greatest in the history of sport. He has totally rekindled interest in the game. It had kind of leveled off, even with the emergence of a great crop of young golfers. It needed an icon and Woods has provided that.
And an aside, how good do you think the Bridgestone people are feeling about their investment in him? There’s many top players converting to playing a Bridgestone ball and expect many more and a surge from the grassroots level. Tiger did it with Nike and he’s doing it with Bridgestone.
The Tour Championship is legitimate because of the field. Almost all of the top players are in it, sans for Jordan Spieth (Titleist Pro V1x), who has had a humbling season. So a victory in this would be sweet for Tiger and for the sport.
You can be sure there will be millions of people cheering for him if he’s still in contention come Sunday. The final 36 holes shouldn’t test his physical stamina because the tournament moves fairly quickly, likely played in 4½ hours per round. This will be more about his mental stamina and focus, knowing how close he is to putting a bow on a superb season.
And he still has the Ryder Cup to go, along with his one-on-one battle with Mickelson in Las Vegas.
But you can be sure Rose will not wilt. He has seemingly come out of nowhere this season to finish strongly at the end. He managed to cobble together enough strong rounds and finishes to vault into the official world golf rankings top spot. The 38-year-old Scotsman is only a few years younger than Woods, so this is an example of a veteran refusing to give way to the 20-somethings who have emerged. He has been in enough battles to be ready for Saturday’s round grouped with Woods.
And don’t discount defending champion Justin Thomas (Titleist Pro V1x).