CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA | When Tiger Woods finished the Masters nearly one month ago, tying for 32nd in his first major championship since 2015, he put the game away again.
For 10 days.
“Didn’t touch a club, didn’t make a swing,” Woods said Wednesday on the eve of the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club.
“It was nice to shut it down, reflect, analyze, sit back and try and figure out what’s the best course of action going forward so I can win events.”
Since returning to the PGA Tour in late January, Woods said he was pointed toward the Masters and trying to win a fifth green jacket, attempting to end a nearly 10-year drought since his last major championship victory.
A closing 69 at Augusta National helped ease the frustration of a week in which Woods struggled to get the ball close to the hole, blaming inconsistent iron play for keeping him out of contention. After three weeks away from tournament golf, Woods returns at a place where he won in 2007 with another target in mind.
“Building toward next week (the Players Championship),” Woods said. “Hopefully I can have everything peak for this week and next week, but mainly next week and, after that, getting ready for Shinnecock (Hills, site of the U.S. Open).
The Wells Fargo Championship will be the first event Woods uses a new set of prototype irons developed for him by TaylorMade. He had been using the same Nike clubs he had under his previous equipment contract while he worked with engineers to create the sleek-looking blades.
“They basically look the same,” Woods said. “The back is a little different. I really don’t care what you put on the back of the club as long as it looks good in the playing position and it flies through the windows I want and the distances I want. Other than that, you can put whatever you want on the back.”
Woods said he prefers a different metal than TaylorMade typically uses in its irons and the process was slowed by his inability to practice. He began working in earnest last December when doctors cleared him following his fusion surgery.
In the Wednesday pro-am, Woods played with 17-year old Shahbaz Hashmi, who earned the opportunity by winning a First Tee essay contest through the Succeeding Together program sponsored by Wells Fargo. Given the choice of professionals to play with, Hashmi chose Woods.
“I’m still grateful and I’m still in a little bit of a state of shock,” Hashmi said after making two birdies with Woods. “I’m satisfied with how I held it together for the most part on the course.”
Woods was impressed.
“He did fantastically,” Woods said.