Tiger Woods admits missing out on this week’s Tour Championship is a blow, but nothing will take away special memories of when “all hell broke loose” during last year’s triumph.
Despite winning the Masters in April, for his first major title in 11 years, the 43-year-old has not produced the consistency required to finish in the top 30 in the FedEx Cup standings.
Woods is joined on the sidelines by Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day, among a host of star names who will be absent from the East Lake action on Thursday.
A $15million top prize is on offer, but it was not about the money for Woods last year as he won by two shots for his first tournament win in five years.
Back injury strife had raised concerns over whether Woods would ever again be a contender, but he carried off the trophy on an emotional Sunday in Atlanta, and used that as a platform to build towards the Masters.
From the home of Bobby Jones …
To the club he founded.
What a special place for your last two victories. pic.twitter.com/N2uKcfzWFV
— TOUR Championship (@playofffinale) April 14, 2019
Now though, Woods has to suck up the pain of failing to make the elite field.
“It was disappointing not to make it,” Woods said. “Last year culminated in a great win, and it turned into what happened, I’m sure, at Augusta, because I was able to prove to myself that I could win again.
“I had come close a couple times and wasn’t able to take it over the line, and finally I was able to do that.
“And now I didn’t qualify for that event, to go back there, and I wouldn’t say quite defend it, but at least be a part of it and play in it. I wasn’t able to do that.
“So yeah, it is frustrating. It is disappointing. But that’s the way it goes.”
Remember when “all hell broke loose”?
— TOUR Championship (@playofffinale) August 20, 2019
Woods was speaking in a teleconference looking ahead to the Presidents Cup in December, when he will captain a United States team in Australia. He has not ruled out playing in the match, too.
Should he find anything close to the form that made him a winner at the Tour Championship 12 months ago, Woods would be an asset to any team.
As he approached the 18th green on the final round at East Lake, enormous crowds flocked behind the American, energised and eager to see Woods polish off a famous victory.
“It gives me chills almost every single time I see it,” Woods said. “At the time, it didn’t seem like that because I didn’t really look back. I only looked back a couple of times over my right shoulder.”
Speaking on the PGA Tour website, Woods recalled how “everyone just busted loose behind us and all hell broke loose”.
“I got on the green, I looked, and I’m like, Holy cow, there’s a lot of people out there,” he said.
Rory McIlroy was partnering Woods in the final round but fell away from contention and the Northern Irishman found appreciating the unfolding story alongside him to be difficult.
But he recalled looking back up the fairway as Woods tapped in to win and said the scene “was unbelievable”.
“Everyone was so happy for him,” McIlroy said.
“People need external things to make themselves happy and remind themselves of the good old days or whatever, and that’s what it was like; Tiger was winning a golf tournament, and it was the good old days.”