Optimism returns for Tiger Woods after rare bogey-free round
Tiger Woods declared his tie for 32nd at the Greenbrier Classic a "very positive week" and sounded genuinely excited about his prospects ahead of this month's British Open at St Andrews starting on July 16.
Woods has won twice at the Old Course, in 2000 and 2005, but it would be premature to suggest his game is quite ready to be etched on the Claret Jug once more.
Still, after signing his first bogey-free card in 56 rounds on the PGA Tour, he had reason for tempered optimism after finishing six strokes behind winner Danny Lee in West Virginia on Sunday.
A day after six-times major champion Nick Faldo concluded that Woods was still prone to blocking drives under pressure, the American former world number one was singing a different tune.
"It's the best I hit it in a long, long time," the 14-times major champion told reporters after signing for a three-under 67.
"This could have been one of those special rounds. I really could have gone low. I had full control over all clubs. I hit it great. I had shapes both ways, right-to-left, left-to-right.
"If I just made a couple of putts, this week could have been completely different. I've made some nice strides heading into the British Open."
It is only one month since Woods shot his worst round as a professional, an 85 at the Memorial tournament, and he also missed the cut at the U.S. Open.
Although the easy conditions on a rain-softened course at the Greenbrier did not provide the most exacting test, Woods said that being in the midst of swing changes at the Memorial played a role in what appeared to be a performance that augured badly for his future.
"I made a big giant step at Memorial, even though I shot those numbers," he said. "I shot those high numbers but shifting the baseline like I did, consequently I'm here now. Very excited about it.
"I've just got to get used to the feel. It's a completely different motion. It's not a short-term fix. People looking for the one quick fix and the very next day play great golf, it doesn't work that way.
"It takes time to build it. I'm very pleased with what I've been able to do."