Tiger Woods said he’s still searching for consistency heading into this week’s U.S. PGA Championship. His former caddie is already back in winning form with new boss Adam Scott.
Woods, in his return to tournament golf after a layoff of almost four months, tied for 37th place at the Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio, yesterday. He finished 18 strokes behind Scott, who won in his first event with Steve Williams as his regular caddie. Williams carried Woods’s bag each of the seven times he won the World Golf Championships event.
Woods finished 1-over par at the Firestone Country Club, yet said he’s encouraged entering golf’s final major tournament of the season. The PGA Championship begins Aug. 11 at Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Georgia.
“I had it in spurts this week. I hit it really well and then I’d lose it and get it back,” Woods said yesterday in a news conference. “I haven’t played, so it’s nice for me to get out there in this competitive atmosphere no matter how I was playing just to figure out how to score.”
Woods, 35, enters the PGA Championship seeking to end a 21-month winless streak. As at the Bridgestone, Woods will have longtime friend Bryon Bell as his caddie instead of Williams, who was alongside him for 13 of his 14 major wins, including all four PGA Championship victories.
While Williams won 72 tournaments worldwide with Woods, he said his victory with Scott in Akron was a memorable one. Woods said two weeks ago that he’d no longer be working with Williams, who caddied for Scott at the U.S. and British Opens this year while Woods was recovering from injuries.
“I’ve been caddying for 33 years and that was the best week of my life,” Williams said in a televised interview after taking the flag off the stick at the 18th hole as a memento. “There was a lot being said this week and it’s incredible to back it up.”
Williams would get $140,000 if he receives the standard 10 percent caddie’s cut of Scott’s $1.4 million prize money for winning. Woods earned $58,500.
Scott shot a 5-under-par 65 during the final round after withstanding early challenges from Ryo Ishikawa, Rickie Fowler and Jason Day -- all of whom are 23 years old or younger -- as well as world No. 1 Luke Donald.
Scott, 31, finished 17-under overall at Firestone Country Club’s South Course, four shots better than Fowler and Donald, and afterwards said Williams’s experience was critical to his win. Ishikawa and Day tied for fourth at 12-under par.
“He has such a great knowledge of this golf course and the greens,” Scott said of Williams, who spent 12 years with Woods. “He’s seen a guy play incredible golf, the best golf anyone has ever played around here so many times. He really guided me around the course nicely.”
Scott’s first victory in the U.S. since the 2010 Texas Open was his eighth career win on the world’s richest golf tour, the fourth-most by an Australian behind Greg Norman (20), Steve Elkington (10) and Stuart Appleby (10). Yet as he walked up to the 18th green, the fans in Akron were chanting Williams’s name.
“It just validates what I told Adam and what we were trying to achieve,” Williams said at a news conference. “Getting the first win is very important. That takes a lot of pressure off going forward.”
For Woods, there’s no let up. He enters the PGA Championship with 20-1 odds to end his winless drought, tied for the fourth-best in the field, according to the Las Vegas Hilton’s Race and Sports Book.
U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy is the favorite at 10-1, followed by Lee Westwood at 12-1 and Donald at 15-1.
“It would be nice, but hey, I’ve got three days,” Woods said when asked if he’d like to have one more tournament to get his game in shape. “I’m going to worry about these three days and apply it accordingly and be ready come Thursday.”