Rozner: Will Tiger Woods make it back to Chicago?

  • Tiger Woods walks off the 18th green Sunday at Olympia Fields after finishing the BMW Championship. His next appearance will be at the U.S. Open in two weeks.

      Tiger Woods walks off the 18th green Sunday at Olympia Fields after finishing the BMW Championship. His next appearance will be at the U.S. Open in two weeks. Barry Rozner | Staff Photographer

Updated 9/1/2020 3:29 PM

The next time you'll see Tiger Woods play golf will be at Winged Foot in the U.S. Open on Sept. 17.

The next time you'll see him in Chicago? Good question.


The BMW Championship shifts to Baltimore next year and even Woods will tell you that there are no guarantees with his balky back, so August 2022 is a long time from now given his surgical history.

His win at the Zozo Championship last fall earned him enough FedExCup points to get him to Olympia Fields this time, just as his win at the Masters in 2019 sent him to Medinah. It was a year ago that I wondered if he would ever play here again, and Tiger Woods being Tiger Woods, he made that question look foolish.

"It aches every day. My back is always going to ache and it's always going to be stiff," said Woods, who turns 45 in December. "When you have a (spinal) fusion, that's just part of the deal. I'll have my good days and I'll have my bad days."

Woods has played only six events in 2020 and four since the restart, playing four rounds in consecutive weeks for the first time in 18 months when he finished the BMW, but the difficult test that was Olympia Fields has at least given the 15-time major champ a good feel for what the players will find at Winged Foot.

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"This golf course was basically a U.S. Open, with the rough being as high as it was and fairways narrow," Woods said. "I don't think that we've seen scores like this in a non-major in a very long time. This was a great ramp-up for the U.S. Open."

The Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits has been rescheduled for September 2021, which is the closest Woods will get to Chicago next year.

U.S. Open odds

DraftKings currently lists Dustin Johnson as the Westchester favorite at 11-1, followed by Jon Rahm (12-1), Bryson DeChambeau (12-1), Brooks Koepka (14-1), Rory McIlroy (14-1) and Justin Thomas (14-1). FanDuel has Johnson at 9-1 and close behind are Rahm (11-1), McIlroy (12-1), Koepka (14-1), Thomas (14-1) and DeChambeau (14-1). Tiger Woods is 25-1 and 29-1 on those two sites, which are now taking legal wagers in Illinois.

Tour Championship

In the second year of the new system for the FedExCup finale at East Lake, Dustin Johnson -- No. 1 in the standings -- begins the tournament at 10-under par, Jon Rahm is at -8, Justin Thomas -7, Webb Simpson is -6 and Collin Morikawa -5. Play begins Friday in Atlanta with a Labor Day finish.


Eventual champ Jon Rahm began the BMW Championship with a 75, the highest opening-round score of the winner in any tournament since Brooks Koepka started with a 75 in the first round of the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock.


Rahm was 8 shots back after Thursday, 6 after Friday, 3 back going into the final round and 4 back making the turn Sunday. He was 10-under par on the weekend and led the field in driving accuracy Saturday and Sunday.

His only bogey in the final 36 holes came on Saturday when he forgot to mark his ball on the green before picking it up, incurring a 1-shot penalty.

"I really can't give you an explanation," Rahm said. "It's one of those things that happens in golf. Never thought it would happen in my professional career, but here we are."

Dialed in

How focused was Jon Rahm on Sunday? While striking his 29-foot birdie attempt on 14, there were police sirens going off in his backswing on Vollmer Road. Rahm never flinched. As he was dropping his 2-foot par putt, there were fire engine sirens. Rahm would then birdie 15 and 16 to take the lead.

Shot of the week

Desperately needing birdie on the par-5 15th, Jon Rahm's third shot was a 6-iron from 215 yards, which he hit to 9 feet under the hole.

Rumor mill

The talk at Olympia Fields was that Rory McIlroy's wife was expecting any moment, that the Zozo Championship would be moved from Japan to California the week after two straight Las Vegas tournaments in October, and that the 2022 BMW Championship would return to Olympia Fields.

The first two have since been confirmed. We await word on where the BMW goes after playing in Baltimore next year.

The challenge

Rory McIlroy, on the course setup at Olympia Fields: "This is proper golf. You've really got to think. You've got to land it on your numbers. You've got to put it in play. It's nice to play a round of golf like that again."

And finally ...

Tiger Woods on PGA Tour golf in 2020: "It's been a very difficult season for anyone involved in the sport, but we're coming out on the positive side. This year is certainly one that I don't think any of us will ever forget."

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