NORTON, Mass. — Tiger Woods birdied two of his first four holes to climb within three shots of the lead on Monday at TPC Boston. It was as close as he would get all day.
In a familiar refrain throughout this comeback season, Woods was good but not good enough, failing to put together four complete days at the Dell Technologies Championship. One day it was the driver (he hit just eight of 14 fairways and was -0.299 in strokes gained/off the tee in Sunday's third round), another his irons (he hit just half his greens in regulation in the opening round and left himself in some tricky spots).
On Monday, there was little doubt what the problem was for a second day in a row: Putting. Woods needed 33 putts and didn’t make any over 11 feet. He also missed three from inside 10 feet and overall made just under 64 feet of total putts, his fewest all week.
Afterward, Woods headed to the locker room and declined to speak to the media, the first time he has done so all year. Really, though, his putting, or lack of thereof, did all the talking necessary for the 14-time major champion, who switched to his third putter of the year earlier this week.
That wasn’t the only club to let him down, though.
On the par-5 seventh, Woods pushed his tee shot right and was forced to chip back into the fairway. His third shot came up woefully short of the green before he blasted a chip that ran 10 feet by. He made the putt for par but it was one of several opportunities lost.
Woods bounced back with a birdie on the par-3 11th, draining an 11-footer, but he gave it back three holes later when, after coming up short of the green, he tried to putt it from the short grass and ran the 80-footer nine feet past the flag then missed the comebacker for his first bogey in two days.
The final nail for Woods came at 16 when he took an overly aggressive line over water to a back left pin on the par 3. The shot came up short and bounced back into the hazard. He went on to make double bogey and finished with an even-par 71 to end the week at seven under, nine strokes back of winner Bryson DeChambeau in a tie for 24th.
With the finish dropping him outside the top 20 on the leader board, it leaves Woods at 25th in the FedEx Cup standings, meaning he’ll have a little work to do at next week’s BMW Championship to make sure he qualifies for the season-ending Tour Championship, where only the top 30 are eligible. Woods has never played a full season and not gotten to East Lake.
Next week’s venue for the BMW, Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, Penn., should at least be familiar to Woods. The AT&T National, the tournament he once helped host, was played there in 2010 and 2011. Woods tied for 46th in 2010 but missed the following year’s event due to injury.