PONTE VEDRA BEACH (Florida) • After finishing equal 11th at the Players Championship - which 2012 US Open champion Webb Simpson won by four strokes on Sunday - Tiger Woods declared himself ready to win another title.
For the second day running, the former world No. 1 plundered the first 12 holes at TPC Sawgrass, this time picking up six birdies. His charge was halted after a double bogey at the island-green 17th.
"I felt good on every facet of the game, and it's weird not to mishit a shot today and only shoot three-under (69)," the 14-time Major champion said. He ended 11-under 277 and seven shots behind Simpson .
Generating as much club-head speed with his driver as almost anyone in the field, Woods, 42, showed he had lost little of his famed power after last year's spinal fusion surgery. He also had good distance control with his irons and bounced back on the greens after putting woefully in Charlotte.
"I didn't play particularly well the first couple of days but I turned it around. Unfortunately (I) just didn't cash in," Woods, who had been in contention in the final round in four of his eight starts this year, said. "If I had the game I had this weekend at the beginning of the week, I would have given Webb a little bit of a run."
Woods has only one more start - at the Memorial tournament in two weeks - to hone his game before the US Open at Shinnecock Hills and he was upbeat about his game.
Justin Thomas also has cause for celebration going into Memorial after becoming the 21st different golfer to become world No. 1 following his joint-11th finish at the Players. The 25-year-old dethroned fellow American Dustin Johnson, who had led the rankings for 64 weeks.
Thomas capped his week with a final round six-under 66.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS