POTOMAC (Maryland) • Tiger Woods produced his best final round since 2012 for a joint fourth-place finish on Sunday at the US PGA Tour's Quicken Loans National, a new putter reviving his game ahead of the British Open.
The 14-time Major champion fired a four-under 66 at TPC Potomac and ended at 11-under 269, 10 shots adrift of winner Francesco Molinari, who matched the course record with a closing eight-under 62, becoming the first Italian winner on the United States-based circuit since Toney Penna in 1947.
Molinari was understandably thrilled, while Woods was also optimistic about his form. This was his lowest final-day score since a 63 at the 2012 CIMB Classic at Kuala Lumpur, for the second-best showing in his comeback season from spinal fusion surgery.
"It feels good. Even my bad putts still had the 'go in' look," the American said. "That's something that I haven't had. When I was struggling there for a little bit, I couldn't even cheer for my good ones."
He said his ability to make long putts consistently with his new mallet putter, given its first competitive test this week, has boosted his confidence ahead of his next start at Carnoustie in three weeks .
"I'm starting to hit some putts. I'm starting to make those putts you're supposed to make from 10, 15 feet, but I'm also making some from outside 20," he said.
"I haven't done that, as I said, for the better part of two months, so that was nice, to make over 100 feet of putts twice this week. That's a positive sign."
Woods is visualising putts better, striking the ball with more confidence and showing more signs of the form that brought him 79 US PGA titles, but none since 2013.
He said: "The putts I missed, I hit a lot of good ones, which I don't mind because I hadn't been doing that for a while, so this was nice."
He even asked Molinari about his secret to shooting 62. "I told him pasta," the 35-year-old from Turin said. "Pasta is the secret."