Tiger fails to qualify for Tour Championship

MEDINAH, Ill. -- The end came quicker than he wanted -- and likely expected -- and undoubtedly Tiger Woods was disappointed in not being able to qualify for next week's Tour Championship.

But he has the Masters, and that is a pretty good way to look back on the 2019 season.

"Very special to won my 15th major and get my fifth jacket,'' Woods said after his season came to an end Sunday at Medinah Country Club. "Those are special moments, and to be able to have an opportunity like that ... and the rest of the tournaments I didn't really play as well as I wanted to, but at the end of the day, I'm the one with the green jacket.''

Woods was unable to make a run during the final round of the BMW Championship, where he shot a final-round 72 Sunday and needed much lower in order to move up enough spots in the FedEx Cup standings to be among the top 30 players who qualified for the season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta.

His tie for 37th ended up being his worst finish of the year in tournaments in which he made the cut. His previous worst was a tie for 30th at the Players Championship.

He entered the week 38th in the FedEx standings but put himself in a huge hole with scores of 71 in the first two rounds before a Saturday 67 gave him hope. But after birdies at the fourth and fifth holes Sunday, Woods could not sustain any momentum. He made just one more birdie the rest of the way, relegating him to a spot outside of the top 40 in the FedEx standings.

"Last year culminated in a pretty special moment for me and would have been nice to go back there,'' Woods said of his 80th PGA Tour title, which occurred in Atlanta last year. "But I'll be watching the guys on TV.''

Woods at least looked healthy for one of the few times since he won the Masters. A week after causing considerable concern about his future with a withdrawal after just one round at the Northern Trust due to an oblique strain, Woods showed significant improvement.

The problem was the rust in his game. For most of the summer, Woods was unable to get into any kind of competitive rhythm, and it hurt him with a missed cut at The Open and then a lack of preparation for the BMW.

"My short game was most disappointing,'' Woods said. "I wasn't very good. The most exciting part was the fact I felt better than I did last week and was able to hit the driver and I drove the eyes out of it for me. I was hitting it long and straight, and that was fun.''

Woods, who is the U.S. Presidents Cup team captain, said he will play just one official PGA Tour event this fall, the Zozo Championship in Japan from Oct. 24-27. He also has his own event, the unofficial Hero World Championship, which is Dec. 4-7 in the Bahamas. Woods leaves directly from there for Australia and the Presidents Cup, where it is still possible he competes as a playing captain. That decision does not need to come until early November.

In the end, Woods played just 12 times on the PGA Tour -- he competed in 18 events in 2018 -- with a victory at the Masters and a total of four top-10 finishes. He ended last year ranked 13th in the world, climbed as high as No. 5 and is expected to settle at No. 8 following the BMW.

"I think right now the most important part is fitness for sure,'' he said. "Keep going the way I'm going right now because I need to get a little bit stronger in certain body parts. Activate different areas. I need to get those parts stronger for sure and then start building up my game for Japan.''