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Tiger Woods looks to salvage terrible season

Tiger Woods watches his tee shot on the

Tiger Woods watches his tee shot on the 18th hole during a practice round for the Quicken Loans National golt tournament at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Va., Tuesday, July 28, 2015. Credit: AP / Steve Helber

Tiger Woods didn't touch a golf club for a week. After missing the cut at the British Open on July 17, he took a vacation with his kids. They went diving, snorkeling, spear fishing.

Anything to get his mind and body as far away from golf as possible, he said Tuesday.

It's not the first time this year Woods has needed a mental breather after a tournament. He's missed the cut in three of the eight events he's competed in this season, and withdrew because of back discomfort after 11 holes at the Farmers Insurance Open in February.

"Is it frustrating? Yeah, it's frustrating not to be able to win golf tournaments," Woods said at a news conference Tuesday in Virginia for his Quicken Loans National tournament. "I'm not really there in contention very often and so that part is frustrating. But I know how close it feels and I know that I just need a couple shots here and there and it turns the tide."

Woods prepared for this week's tournament at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Virginia knowing it would take a victory for him just to qualify for next week's Bridgestone Invitational, a tournament he's won eight times.

"Unfortunately, I can't get an invite there unless I win," said Woods, whose official world ranking has fallen to 266. "I might as well earn one this week and go out and get it done."

The Quicken Loans National could be his second-to-last start of the season. Woods, who is on pace to miss the FedEx Cup playoffs, will need to catch fire to prevent his season from concluding at the PGA Championships in two weeks. That's assuming he doesn't enter the Wyndham Championship the week after, the last tournament before the playoffs. He said Tuesday he wouldn't enter the alternate event to the Bridgestone, the Barracuda Championship.

Trouble with the short game plagued the 14-time major champion through the early parts of his season, but after his lackluster showing at St Andrews -- he shot rounds of 76 and 75, 7 over par, to miss the cut -- his self-criticism focused on spin rate and attack angles.

"When you can make feel and real the same, that's always nice," Woods said. "I play with a lot of feel. That's how I've always played the game. It's also nice to have the data to back it up. 'This is what I think this club is doing, this is what I think this ball is doing. Do the numbers match up?' "

Woods said he feels healthy and isn't hindered by anything physically. But he's still on the road back from back surgery, which cost him three months last year.

"I changed my golf swing and did a polar 180 recovering from back surgery," he said. "You add those two together, it's a perfect storm that I've had to fight through, both of those at the same time."

Woods didn't envision his return to form taking this long.

"I didn't think it would take this long because I thought I would have my short game earlier, which I didn't at the very beginning of the year," Woods said. "You can cover up a lot of different things when you're chipping and putting well.

"I haven't scored very well. I missed cuts. I haven't done much in the last couple years and so I haven't played a whole lot of golf in the last couple years. That's what [caddie] Joey [LaCava] keeps reminding me of, 'Would you just relax? You haven't played that much. You think about it, the times you have played and when you've been healthy . . . How many tournaments have you been healthy at? It's not that big a number.'

"Also, he keeps reminding me you won five times two years ago and so it's not that far removed. So hopefully, I can start playing the way that I know I can play and start gaining some W's again."


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