Tiger Woods. Picture: REUTERS
Tiger Woods. Picture: REUTERS

St Louis — Tiger Woods was a lot more forgiving of his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship on Sunday than his close call at July’s British Open.

Woods huffed and puffed with everything he could muster but in the end could not quite blow down the Brooks Koepka house at Bellerive, coming up two shots short.

However, he dispelled any lingering doubts that he was back from spinal fusion surgery in 2017, even if at 42, it is unrealistic to expect him to dominate in the manner that earned him 14 Major championships before his 33rd birthday.

Woods in his prime treated second place with contempt but his perspective has changed with time and an ailing body.

He said he could not recall the last time he had felt so good about not winning.

"I was pretty ticked at the British Open," he said of his performance at Carnoustie, where he finished three strokes behind winner Francesco Molinari.

The Claret Jug was his for the taking when he led midway through the final round before a double-bogey at the 11th and a bogey at the 12th.

On Sunday, however, he could never quite get his nose in front, even after four birdies in six holes around the turn.

"This one I never quite got to the lead," he said after carding six-under-par 64, equal to the day’s best round.

"It was a course I couldn’t quite sit still and be okay with it. I had to keep making birdies."

Back-to-back Majors

Woods did not directly answer a question about whether he had expectations at the start of the year of contending in back-to-back Majors.

"I didn’t have a swing at the time, I had no speed, my short game wasn’t quite there yet," he said. "But God, I hadn’t played in two years, so it’s been a hell of a process for sure."

His Sunday charge seemed unlikely after a bad preround session on the range, and even after birdies at the second and third holes his swing did not seem in sync.

But he somehow held everything together on the front nine with smoke and mirrors, and a hot putter.

Woods figured in the world’s top 30 rankings, at 26, on Monday for the first time since 2014 on the back of his exploits at the PGA Championship.

Koepka’s win earned him a two-spot rise to second behind Dustin Johnson.

The rankings have added significance with the Ryder Cup looming in France in September and the top eight qualifying automatically for the 12-strong US team. The other four will be picked in early September by captain Jim Furyk and Woods is sure to be among those considered.

AFP, Reuters

World top 20

(Q denotes qualification on points for Ryder Cup)

1 Dustin Johnson (US, Q) 10.46 pts

2 Brooks Koepka (US, Q) 10.16

3 Justin Thomas (US, Q) 9.67

4 Justin Rose (Eng, Q) 8.65

5 Jon Rahm (EspP, Q) 7.67

6 Francesco Molinari (Ita, Q) 7.56

7 Rory McIlroy (NIR, Q) 7.13

8 Jordan Spieth (US, Q) 6.91

9 Rickie Fowler (US, Q) 6.57

10 Jason Day (Aus) 6.45

11 Tommy Fleetwood (Eng, Q) 6.08

12 Patrick Reed (US, Q) 5.34

13 Alex Noren (Swe, Q) 5.33

14 Bubba Watson (US, Q) 5.17

15 Paul Casey (Eng) 5.08

16 Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn) 4.54

17 Marc Leishman (Aus) 4.47

18 Xander Schauffele (US) 4.46

19 Henrik Stenson (Swe) 4.43

20 Webb Simpson (US, Q) 4.34