x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Easy pickings for Woods

Normal service was resumed by Tiger Woods at the BMW Championship in Illinois as the world No 1 did what he does best and converted a commanding overnight lead into the 71st tournament victory of an outstanding career.

Normal service was resumed by Tiger Woods at the BMW Championship in Illinois as the world No 1 did what he does best and converted a commanding overnight lead into the 71st tournament victory of an outstanding career. Woods, who astonishingly had been caught and passed on the final day of the recent US PGA Championship by Korea's YE Yang, made no mistake when going into the fourth round of the latest Fed-Ex qualifier with a massive seven-stroke advantage.

Solid putting enabled Woods to coast home by an emphatic eight-shot margin and increase the gap over his closest pursuers - Steve Stricker, Phil Mickelson and Paul Casey - at the top of the world rankings. Considering Woods spent the second half of last year recovering from knee surgery and did not swing a club competitively in 2009 until the end of February, this has been an excellent campaign for the sport's biggest personality.

Woods acknowledged that when he discussed the easiest of his six triumphs since his comeback. "It's one of my best years - there's no doubt about that," he enthused. "I haven't won as many times as I did in 2000 and I didn't win any majors this year but I have never had a year where I've been this consistent. To have an opportunity just about every time I tee it up to win the championship on the back nine - that's something that I can't tell you how about proud I am."

Woods, whose re-appearance after injury was in the matchplay environment of the WGC Accenture Championship, has since entered in 15 strokeplay events and finished out of the top 10 only twice, notably in the British Open at Turnberry where he failed to make the halfway cut. He is delighted with his record considering the misgivings he had about his damaged knee. "There were so many uncertainties at the beginning of the season," he admitted. "I didn't know how the leg was going to respond."

Woods tops the qualifying list of 30 for the PGA's end-of-season Tour Championship which he claimed will feature "the hottest field you will probably have all year". The European Tour equivalent of that is the Dubai World Championship, which will be held at the Earth Course on Jumeirah Golf Estates in November. The field for that 60-man showpiece is hotting up with only two more months of qualifying remaining.

James Kingston's play-off victory over Anders Hansen at the Mercedes Masters in Cologne put the South African well in the running for a tee time in that elite line-up. Winning for the second time in 199 attempts on the European Tour, Kingston leaped from 116th to 46th in the Race to Dubai money list with ?522,280 (Dh 2.77m). He has a cushion of ?72,000 over those just outside the qualifying mark. Kingston only found out that he had secured a starting place in Cologne a couple of days before the tournament and he remarked: "One minute you don't even think you are playing and the next minute you win it.

"It's like the South African Open [which he won in 2007]. I was injured a couple of days beforehand and didn't think I could play and I went on to win that. Two wins and both of them unexpected." @Email:wjohnson@thenational.ae