Woods Returns To Bellerive For First Time Since 9/11

Jul 22, 2018; Carnoustie, Angus, SCT; Tiger Woods walks off the 17th tee during the final round of The Open Championship golf tournament at Carnoustie Golf Links.Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

Eldrick Tiger Woods was set to tee off at Bellerive Country Club in the American Express Championship on Thursday, September 13, 2001.

Woods and Mike Wier were amid a Tuesday morning practice round when the world changed forever.

“It’s one of those days you’ll remember for the rest of your life, where you were,” Wier said of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. “Actually, Tiger and I were playing a practice round early in the morning, and Commissioner [Tim] Finchem drove out in a cart and told us what was going on. And from there, everybody was just glued to the TV to see what was going on. … It is still pretty vivid in my mind.”

For the first time since 1949, PGA Tour officials cancelled a tournament without a rescheduled date; but it was alright because Woods was expected to play in the third leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, the BMW Championship, at Bellerive in 2008.

Woods hobbled around Torrey Pines on a torn ACL in the U.S. Open that year, defeating Rocco Mediate in one of the most memorable performances of his career. An ACL injury and a double stress fracture in his left tibia forced Woods to sit out the rest of the season, leaving him to be a no-show for the BMW Championship.

Now come August 9, St. Louisians will finally get to bare witness to one of the greatest golfers of all time. He may not be as dominant as he was earlier in his career, but his comeback season has been full of anticipation.

It could all come to fruition at Bellerive Country Club.

By the time some Americans were rolling out of bed last Sunday, Woods was rolling in putts and saw himself atop the leaderboard on Sunday at the Open Championship. If it weren’t for a double bogey on the eleventh hole, he very well could have hoisted the Claret Jug instead of Francesco Molinari.

Luckily for Tiger fans around the St. Louis area, the next step in Woods’ quest for his first Major Championship in 10 years will be at Bellerive for the PGA Championship.

Woods has the fourth best odds to win the year’s final Major, and for good reason. He’s had a relatively successful 2018, racking up five top 10 finishes (three in the top 5). His statistics across the PGA Tour are well above average as well, as Woods ranks 11th in scoring average (69.641), 15th in club head speed (120.77 mph), 18th in scrambling percentage (63.64 percent) and has an average drive of almost 304.7 yards.

However, he’s struggled in two of the three Majors. He placed 32nd in the Masters and missed the cut at the U.S. Open before placing sixth in the Open Championship. Woods showed flashes of his former self at Carnoustie, taking advantage of the Par 5’s (-5 on the week), scrambled at an impressive 86.11 percent clip, hit fairways and made some putts.

Bellerive sets up nicely for Woods, as the shorter length of the course will allow him to take out his trusty driving iron more often than the big stick. This will lead to more fairways hit and ultimately, more birdie opportunities. While this may be the case for a considerable amount of players in the field, Woods has proved so far this year that when he hits fairways, he’s as good as anyone.

Regardless of how Woods plays, it’ll be an exciting time for St. Louis golf fans to have one of the best that’s ever played the game to come into town for a week at Bellerive.

Jack Parodi is a columnist for 590 The Fan and you can find him on Twitter @jack_parodi