PONTE VERDA BEACH, Fla. — After missing last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational because of a neck strain, it appears Tiger Woods will be able to give it a go at this week’s Players Championship. On Monday, Woods spent nearly three hours on the back of the range at TPC Sawgrass going through his entire bag.
Also noteworthy from the session was that Woods worked on his putting with coach Matt Killen.
Woods has not had a coach of any kind since parting ways with Chris Como at the end of 2017, but it appears that might no longer be the case. While it was the first time that Killen has been with the Woods at a tournament, it was not the first time the two worked together as the 32-year-old Kentucky native had been to see Woods in South Florida recently.
“His stroke looked good,” Killen told Golf Digest as he departed the range. “His putting is better. I like what I see.”
Though Woods has not finished outside the top 20 in three starts this year, the area of his game that he has struggled with the most is putting.
In his last start two weeks ago, at the World Golf Championship-Mexico Championship, he had a half-dozen three-putts for the week. At the Genesis Open the week before that, he called his week at Riviera one of the worst he’s had with the flat stick — an accurate summation given that his opening round included four three-putts and his final round featured an abysmal total of just over 50 feet of putts made
Had Woods played enough rounds this season to qualify, he would rank 80th on tour in strokes gained/putting.
As for Killen, it’s of little surprise that Woods would turn to him. Justin Thomas, who often plays with Woods when the two are at home, has worked with Killen on his putting since long before he turned pro. It has also often been Woods' M.O. to work with coaches who operate in the same circle of those around him.
Killen of course has a proven track record as well. His other clients on the PGA Tour include J.B. Holmes, who won at Riviera earlier this year, Bud Cauley and Blayne Barber. He has also long been lauded as one of the best young teachers in the game.
Woods, who won the Players in 2001 and 2013, is scheduled to play this week with defending champion Webb Simpson and reigning Masters champion Patrick Reed in the first two rounds at TPC Sawgrass.