Norton, Mass. -- New England Patriots fans know all too well that their football team went almost undefeated in 2007, but just in case they had forgotten about that final, head-exploding loss to Peyton Manning’s kid brother, Tiger Woods was only too happy to remind them.
“Just because you sweep the playoffs doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed that you’re going to win the overall title,” Woods said to groans from local reporters after he put on an absolute clinic on his way to firing a 7-under 64 in the first round of the Deutsche Bank Championship.
Indeed it does not, as Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the rest of the guys down the road in Foxboro are well aware. But Woods was not just rubbing salt in the five-year-old wound; he was explaining the inexplicable -- how the FedEx Cup “playoffs” differed from those in which the Pats are perennial contenders and others, like college football’s BCS.
“I would say it's different than all those,” Woods said about the four PGA Tour events that commence after the final major of the season, and, which, coincidentally began the same year the Pats spit the bit. “I think we're just trying to play for position for the [series-ending] Tour Championship, because we know if we're in the top five and we win the Tour Championship, you automatically win the FedExCup. And the guys are just trying to position themselves there somehow, try and get there.”
Woods, who, on a perfect day for scoring, torched TPC Boston to the tune of seven birdies -- including six in a row beginning on the par-5 18th, Tiger’s ninth of the day -- and a lone bogey on the last, clarified further, though Patriots fans wished he hadn’t.
“You could win all three of these events and still lose the FedEx Cup. That's kind of the nature of how it's set up,” he said. “The argument would be, unfortunately for you Pats fans, is when you guys win ‑‑ what was it, 18 and 0, and unfortunately lost one -- that's kind of the argument.”
Woods also chatted about his score -- his second lowest of the year, after the 62 he posted in the final round of the Honda Classic. Saying he “played really well today” from tee to cup, he noted that the number may have been far better than the final-round 76 at last week’s Barclays, but his game was not much different.
“It wasn’t like I was hitting a lot of awful shots,” Woods said about a weekend at Bethpage Black that saw him three-putt four greens on Saturday and finish up in a tie for 38th. “I just needed a couple putts to kind of go my way and it didn’t happen....Today was about the same as I have been playing pretty much all summer, just go out there and playing pretty consistent.”
Perhaps an unusual Friday start and Labor Day Monday finish this week for the second leg of the FedEx Cup events will help Woods break his trend of weekend meltdowns that have plagued him for much of the year. While he has not broken par in his last four weekend rounds, Woods will take a day when he drove the ball well (he hit 71 percent of his fairways in regulation), his irons were on fire (89 percent of GIR), and he needed only 28 putts.
“It was a nice, solid round,” Woods said.