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By Dave Shedloski
MEDINAH, Ill. — Tiger Woods went through the paces of a full itinerary Tuesday afternoon at Medinah Country Club. But only a small part of it was devoted to preparation for this week’s BMW Championship, the second of three PGA Tour events in the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
Having withdrawn from last week’s Northern Trust after 18 holes with an oblique strain, the reigning Masters champion flew in Tuesday from his home in Jupiter, Fla., and arrived at the golf club outside of Chicago around 1:20 p.m. local time intent on competing at the course where he earned two of his 15 major titles. Woods won the PGA Championship on Medinah’s No. 3 Course in 1999 and 2006.
“I feel good. Feel a lot better than I felt last week,” Woods told a reporter for USA Today. “Felt good this morning so I thought I’d give it a go.”
Woods, 43, limited his work on Tuesday to Medinah’s large, undulating putting green under the watchful eye of his putting coach Matt Killen. Fewer than 50 fans watched as he putted for 48 minutes, sometimes with just his right hand on the club. At one juncture, he made more than 50 putts in a row from a spot about five feet below a hole where a chalk line had been drawn to the cup. He swung the putter between two tees he placed in the ground.
Upon arriving at the course, Woods had several scheduled interviews to conduct. Then he joined NBC Sports/Golf Channel broadcaster Mark Rolfing in a meeting with Chicago city officials about a prospective golf course development next to the Barack Obama Presidential Library. The South Shore Jackson Park project will include an 18-hole course designed by Woods along parts of Lake Michigan.
Rolfing, a Chicago-area native, is helping the Chicago Park District get the deal to the finish line. “We’re about 99 percent there I think,” Rolfing said. “Tiger was a huge help with a lot of the progress we made.”
Whether or not Woods has made progress in recovering from his most recent injury remains to be seen, but the fact that he will try to compete in the 70-man field has an air of optimism to it. He did undergo a lengthy treatment on his back in the locker room Tuesday before venturing out for putting practice, which is part of his daily routine whenever he competes.
Ranked No. 6 in the world, Woods is scheduled to play in Wednesday’s pro-am, teeing off at 6:50 a.m. Last week at the Northern Trust at Liberty National, Woods did not hit a full shot for the final nine holes of his pro-am round. After shooting an opening-round 75 on Thursday, he withdrew Friday morning ahead of his second-round tee time, citing pain and stiffness.
It was the first time Woods has had to withdraw from an event during a tournament since his comeback after spinal fusion surgery in 2017.
Sitting 38th on the FedEx Cup points list, Woods will need a strong finish at the BMW if he is to return to East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta and defend his title at the Tour Championship. The top 30 in the FedEx Cup standings advance to the season finale. Last year at East Lake, Woods won his 80th tour title and his first since 2013, signalling that his comeback after two injury-plagued years on the sidelines was a rousing success.
Woods is scheduled to begin the BMW Championship at 11:54 a.m. local time Thursday with Billy Horschel and C.T. Pan. His Friday start time is 9:37 a.m.