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Woods set to tee off as single man again

other Updated: Aug 26, 2010 09:19 IST

AFP
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Tiger Woods tees off on Thursday as a single man again, desperate to recapture some form and eke out the top 50 finish that would guarantee his presence in the next round of the PGA Tour playoffs.

Up until last November when a whirl of extra-marital affairs brought his world tumbling down, Woods's qualification would have been a fait accompli, but so poor has he been of late that nothing is for certain.

With his divorce from ex-wife Elin Nordegren official from Monday, The Barclays provides the world number one with a chance to turn the page and reverse the downward spiral that has left his golf game in ruins.

Failure to make the top 57 however would mean the end of Woods's PGA season and he would have to cross his fingers that Corey Pavin sees past the furor surrounding his private life and makes him a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup.

Since returning to competitive golf four months ago at The Masters following the blistering sex scandal, Woods has not come close to winning a tournament.

At the Bridgestone Invitational earlier this month, he turned in the worst performance of his career, finishing second last in a tie for 78th.

The 14-time major winner, who had won the event seven times previously, shot 18-over par and finished an embarrassing 30 shots behind eventual winner Hunter Mahan.

At this week's tournament in New Jersey, Woods, in the unusual position of being 112th in the PGA points race, needs to finish 57th or better to make it through to next week's Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston.

The top 100 are then whittled down to just 70 for the BMW Championship, before the leading 30 qualify for the season ending Tour Championship finale in Atlanta starting on September 23.

Woods is also hoping to earn enough qualifying points for the Ryder Cup, the biennial event against Europe's best golfers which will be battled out this year at Celtic Manor in Wales in October.

Even if he makes the US Ryder Cup team, wives and girlfriends have assumed a larger role in the social side of the event in recent years and some leading figures in the game have long said it could be difficult for him.

"Turning up at Celtic Manor could be one of the hardest things Tiger ever does," European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie wrote in a newspaper column several months ago.

"He will worry about how the wives of the other players will react to him. Some of them will be friends with Elin and they will sympathize with her anger and pain. Some of them might find it hard to welcome Tiger back into the group."