Firestone a perfect place for Tiger to salvage season

Wed Jul 30, 2014 5:01pm EDT
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(Reuters) - Tiger Woods, still tournament rusty after spending much of this year recovering from back surgery, could not have picked a better venue as he strives to turn his season around at this week's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

Woods has won the elite World Golf Championships (WGC) crown a record eight times at the Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio and would dearly love to add a ninth in his bid to qualify for the PGA Tour's lucrative season-ending FedExCup playoffs.

The former world number one has just three events remaining to advance from his lowly 215th spot in the FedExCup points list and book his place among the top 125 who will tee off in the playoff opener, The Barclays tournament from Aug. 21-24.

"I am excited to be back," Woods, who won last year's Bridgestone Invitational title by a commanding seven shots, told reporters on Wednesday while preparing for Thursday's opening round. "I have had some pretty good memories here.

"I've had some great rounds and certainly some great moments on this property, so any time I come back here, it's always a good, solid feeling. I am looking forward to this week."

Asked whether Firestone would be a perfect test of how his game was progressing, Woods replied: "Not necessarily, because I have come into this event not playing great and I've come into this event playing great.

"But there are certain golf courses - here, Torrey (Pines), Bay Hill, even Augusta (National) - no matter what my form is going into that week at those particular venues, I just somehow feel good.

"It doesn't mean I am going to play well but I still have that feeling. Unfortunately one year, I didn't play very well here, I finished second to last, but over the years I have finished first eight times. That's a pretty good stat."

Since undergoing back surgery in late March, Woods has competed in just two PGA Tour events - missing the cut at last month's Quicken Loans National and finishing 69th at the British Open 10 days ago.   Continued...

Tiger Woods of the U.S. watches his tee shot on the fifth hole during the final round of the British Open Championship at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, northern England July 20, 2014.      REUTERS/Phil Noble