California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    Out of the Woods, Back In the Game

    Tiger Woods competed in the Valspar Championship golf tournament March 8-11 at the Innisbrook Resort in Tampa, Florida. For the first time in almost five years, Woods was at the top of the leaderboard, trailing behind first place by one stroke.

    Woods started off strong in the first round of the tournament, birding the first hole and then totaling up five birdies and shooting a 71, one under to finish the day of round one. But Woods didnโ€™t settle there. He fired a two under score the second day and then a four under, 67 the third day, making it his lowest round score on Tour since 2015.

    โ€œTiger posted four birdies in an eight-hole stretch on Saturday that made this often sleepy Valspar Championship feel like moving day at a major. The birdies came in all forms, carded on the back of Tiger pulling off all the shots,โ€ said Brendan Porath, writer and editor of SBNation.

    Woods, who is 42-years-old, didn’t appear to let his fused spine and surgeries affect his playing during this tournament. The peak of his round during the third day, came right at the turn, where he holed-out from a scruffy lie and then drained a birdie putt on hole 10 moments later.

    โ€œThat chip was sitting down a little bit. It was down-hill and down green. I’ve hit so many good chips that haven’t gone in yet and I was due to hole one, and I finally holed one and it was nice to get the momentum going,โ€ said Tiger Woods in post round interview.

    Those back-to-back birdies put him in a share for the lead with Corey Conners, and burned the edge of the hole on the 11th for a birdie putt, which wouldโ€™ve put Woods in the solo right lead; the first time in his fourth tournament and 13 rounds comeback.

    โ€œI think Tiger playing so well is good publicity for the sport. Since Tiger Woods is one of the most well known names is the sports world, especially in golf, I think itโ€™s awesome and about time he makes a comeback,โ€ said Cal Lutheran golfer Hannah Pasco.

    On the 12th hole, Woods hit a good iron off the tee to the middle of the fairway and then stuck his approach shot to 8 feet. Woods would play the final eight holes in even-par, making one bogey and one birdie. He hit 11 of 18 greens in regulation and only had one error on his scorecard, a missed six-foot par putt on the final hole of the third day.

    โ€œThe fans at the Hooters Owls Nest, which surrounds the green, were so loud he had to pause for a moment before hitting his second shot to let the applause die down. The fans began chanting his name as he walked closer and closer to the green,โ€ said Dan Kilbridge, writer for Golfweek Magazine.

    During the final round on Sunday, Woods posted a 1 under, 71, finishing the tournament tied for second; behind Paul Casey.ย  Woods went 15 holes without a birdie until he broke the run with a birdie putt from just inside 45 feet that trickled into the hole on the 17th. This left him one shot behind first place with one hole to play.

    โ€œTigerโ€™s T-2 at the Valspar Championship is his first PGA tour top-5 in 1,659 days. Thatโ€™s over 4.5 hours,โ€ Kilbridge said.

    Woods played conservatively with an iron off the 442-yard, uphill 18th hole on the Copperhead course. From 185 yards, his approach came upย  40 feet short, and his birdie putt to force a playoff was 2 feet short.

    “I didn’t feel that sharp with my iron game. I played conservatively into the green because I wasn’t as sharp as yesterday. It was one of those days I kept getting half-clubs. However, I keep getting a little bit better. I had a good shot at winning this golf tournament. A couple putts here and there, it could have been a different story,” Woods said.

    Next up for Woods is the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill next week, which he hasn’t played since he won five years ago.

    Marissa McCardell