Tiger Finishes Northern Trust With Solid Ball Striking, One-Under 70

Tiger Woods made just one bogey over the weekend at Ridgewood but simply couldn't get putts to fall. 
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The bogeys were few and far between for Tiger Woods this weekend at the Northern Trust, where he drove the ball perhaps better than he has all season. But the birdies were almost equally sparse, which prevented Woods from moving up the leaderboard and racking up points in the first FedEx Cup playoff event. 

Woods made two birdies and one bogey en route to a final-round 70 on Sunday, capping off a frustrating week, particularly on Ridgewood Country Club's greens. Woods hit 11 of 14 fairways and 12 of 18 greens but dropped strokes to the field putting for the fourth straight day and looked generally uncomfortable with the putter in his hand all week.

The stats tell the story succinctly: Out of the 80 players who made the cut, Woods finished third in strokes gained approach, 11th in strokes gained tee-to-green and 79th in strokes gained putting. Woods' four-under total for the week was in a tie for 40th when he finished his round, and he is projected to drop slightly from the 20th position he occupied in the FedEx Cup standings entering this week.

“I played a lot better than my score indicates," Woods told reporters after the round. "I didn’t make any birdies this week. I didn’t putt well and at the end of the day, I found a piece of my game that has been missing, which is driving it well, but you have to make putts. That’s the only way we’re going to shoot low rounds. I didn’t do it this week.”

Woods' lone bogey of the day on Sunday came on the par-3 15th after coming up short with an attempted flop shot. That dropped shot prevented him from posting his first bogey-free weekend since 2006.

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He will qualify for both next week's Dell Technologies Championship in Boston, where the top 100 in the standings will tee it up, as well as the following week's BMW Championship, which will feature the top 70. Woods has committed to both events, but he will have to rank in the top 30 of the standings after the BMW to qualify for the Tour Championship for the first time since 2013. 

There are certainly positives to take from this week. After switching back to a driver shaft that he has used in the past, Tiger looked comfortable shaping tee shots both ways and was swinging smoother with the big stick. The pattern this week—driving it on a string but failing to convert makeable birdies—was the inverse of the PGA Championship two weeks ago, where he struggled mightily to find fairways but managed 23 birdies for the week en route to a solo-second finish. 

Woods' rounds at Ridgewood were largely uneventful, as he finished the week with just nine birdies and five bogeys. He will have three days to sure up the putting stroke before teeing it up next week at TPC Boston, where he won in 2006. Woods is seeking his third FedEx Cup title—he's the only player to have won the season-long points race twice, in 2007 and 2009.