Tiger 'encouraged' after PGA prep

It was not a good day for Tiger Woods Saturday at the Bridgestone Invitational. Woods didn't hit a fairway until the 11th hole, struggled with his putting and was 13 shots behind Adam Scott going into Sunday. AP video. (August 7)

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AKRON, Ohio -- As Tiger Woods approached the 11th green from a typically sharp angle out of the trees, a young fan yelled, "Tiger, you'll win the PGA next week!"

It's possible, but we will have to see about that. Judging from his return to competitive golf during the past four days, it is impossible to predict anything about Woods in the season's final major, which will begin Thursday at Atlanta Athletic Club.

"You know, I had it in spurts this week," he said after finishing on a positive spurt -- three birdies in his final four holes to finish at 1-over-par 281 for four rounds at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. "I hit it really well, and then I'd lose it and get it back."

He totaled five birdies Sunday, which is good, but he shot par, which is not as good as the 68 he shot Thursday. So there was no particular arc to the week. On Sunday, he had a stretch when he couldn't keep it near a fairway -- left on No. 10, right on No. 11, left again on 13 -- but he hit it straight to finish.

There was only one consistent theme: The left knee and left Achilles tendon that had kept him out since the spring felt fine.

"Absolutely encouraged," he said. "I hadn't played. I mean, this is my first tournament since, what, April?

"I just keep plodding along. It's nice for me to get out there in this competitive atmosphere, no matter how I was playing, just to figure out how to score because I haven't been forced to score. At home, playing money games with my buddies is just not quite the same."

He said he still is getting used to hitting the ball straighter than he used to, because of his health and sessions with new swing coach Sean Foley. "It's very similar to what I was when I was a kid," he said. But Woods can't even say for sure which putter he will use at the PGA (he switched from the Scotty Cameron to Nike Sunday), let alone how he will play.

The only definitive statement he made was that his childhood buddy, Bryon Bell, will be his caddie again.

Atwal ties for 63rd.Former Clarke High School and Nassau Community College star Arjun Atwal is heading to the PGA Championship after a final-round 76 and an 8-over week, which tied for 63rd place.

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