Woods needs to again treat Firestone with contempt
If it’s true that ‘Familiarity breeds Contempt’, then Tiger Woods should be using the phrase as a personal impetus to get something going in his spluttering, injury-plagued season at this week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone.
Woods is two tournaments into his comeback from back surgery but returns to one of his personal backyards, the South Course at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, where he has won eight times since 1999, including an imperious seven-stroke victory in 2013.
Tiger Woods (Credit: Anthony Powter)
There are only three other players in this week’s field (Adam Scott, Keegan Bradley and Hunter Mahan) who have tasted victory at this event, four if you count Phil Mickelson at the old World Series of Golf back in1996, so Woods only has to blink for the memories and adrenalin rushes of past performances to come flooding back.
The former world number one has only three possible events – this week, the following week’s PGA Championship and the Wyndham Championship – to earn enough points to qualify for an improbable FedEx Cup Playoff position, which would guarantee him further play for at least another week and a chance to impress Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson, should he need to rely on a captain’s pick for the biennial matches in September.
To date, Woods has not indicated he will play the Wyndham so there is much riding on this week and at Valhalla, where he won the PGA Championship in 2000.
Not qualifying for the Playoffs will mean he would not have earned sufficient Ryder Cup points to qualify automatically for the team and with Watson keen to consider him should he be healthy and playing well, sitting on the couch for six weeks before Gleneagles rolls around is not necessarily the ‘form’ Watson is looking for.
Should he not rise to the occasion this week and treat Firestone with the respectful contempt he has wreaked upon it in the past, then all his eggs will be in the one basket at Valhalla.
Should he fail to impress there, it will be interesting to see what Woods’ schedule might look like post the PGA in a last ditch bid to impress Mr Watson.
European Tour tournament promoters in Italy, Switzerland and The Netherlands might be licking their lips at the prospect of a 14-time major champion knocking on their door looking for a game before the three captain’s picks are made in early September.