Progress for Tiger Woods at The Greenbrier, but still a long way to go

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With all due respect to 24-year-old Danny Lee, who earned his first career PGA Tour win in a four-man playoff at The Greenbrier Classic, the real story of the weekend is Tiger Woods.

Woods started his day Sunday seven shots behind the leader and shot a bogey-free 67 to finish at 7-under par for a four day score of 273 (66-69-71-67). Woods broke a streak of 55 consecutive rounds with at least one bogey. It was his first time under par in a final round since the 2013 Tour Championship.

“I played really well today,” Woods said. “This could have been one of those special rounds. It’s the best I’ve hit it in a very long time. I had full control over all clubs.”

“I hit it great. I had shapes both ways right and left drive. I had it all on call today,” added Woods, who will next tee it up in the British Open at St. Andrews.

While it’s refreshing to see the former world number one put four consistent rounds together, golf fans should put this weekend in perspective. Tiger still finished behind 31 other golfers this week, and this was a field that didn’t include Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson, Jason Day or Rickie Fowler.

2015 has been a disastrous year for Woods. By now you know the drill. The missed cut at the Phoenix Open. The withdrawal a week later at the Farmers Insurance Open. His world ranking dipping below 200. Then the low point last month at the U.S. Open, when the 14-time major winner was sent packing after missing the cut at +16.

Still, give credit where credit is due. Another abysmal performance at The Greenbrier, and fans would have been all over Tiger – again. Golf’s favorite punching bag these days has been consistent in his response to criticism.

“I made a big giant step at The Memorial,” Woods said. “Even though I shot those numbers the pattern was set. I just had to refine it. This week I definitely did that. “It is a completely different motion. It is not a short term fix. People are looking for the one quick fix and very next day go out and play great golf. It doesn’t work that way.”

Woods will make his next start at The Open Championship, beginning July 16, followed by appearances at his own Quicken Loans National and the PGA Championship. He is not currently qualified for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational or any of the season-ending FedEx Cup events.

“I made some nice strides heading into the British Open,” he added. “I’ll do some good work next week and be ready come Thursday.”

St. Andrews will be the real test for Tiger – he won the British Open there in 2000 and 2005. Could his strong play at The Greenbrier signal the turning point the sport has been waiting for? Perhaps. But to finally answer his critics and silence the skeptics, it needs to happen at a major. That’s just the way it is when your name is Tiger Woods.