LEMONT, Ill. – There are some places that simply suit Tiger Woods better than others.
Seven wins at Torrey Pines, including a U.S. Open — played on one leg, no less. Seven more victories at Firestone, and six at Bay Hill. Cog Hill? His victory total here stands at five.
"This is one of them where I've won in different ways, and it's always nice to come back to a venue that, yeah, I've won, but I've won it multiple times and different ways," Woods said Wednesday at the BMW Championship. "I can always kind of go back to that no matter how I'm playing. I can still figure out a way to get it done, because I've done it different ways."
That comfort level could pay off big this week.
Now that his divorce is finalized and his personal life has settled down, Woods has had time to work on the mess that his swing had become. It's only been a few weeks since he was first spotted with Canadian-born swing coach Sean Foley at the PGA Championship, but already he can see results.
He opened The Barclays with a season-best 65. At last week's Deutsche Bank Championship, Woods had three rounds in the 60s for the first time this year.
"The shots that I'm hitting now, it's been a long time since I've been able to do that," he said. "That's always a good sign."
Woods was well aware his game was in disarray for much of this year. How could it not be? His marriage was crumbling after revelations of numerous infidelities, and golf was often the last thing on his mind. Always meticulous about practice and preparation, it didn't take long for the turmoil in his personal life to spill over into his game.
Forget matching Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 majors, as many had expected he'd do this summer. Making the cut was often milestone enough. He tied for 23rd at St. Andrews, where he's won two British Opens. He had the worst tournament of his career — at Firestone, of all places — finishing ahead of only one player at 18 over.
Instead of seeking out a coach, Woods tried to patch together whatever fixes he could with a video camera and his memory.
"Let's just say I've been through a lot lately, and I didn't want to have any more information," he said. "I was trying to get adjusted to my new life and what that entailed, and it was enough as it was. I didn't have time to work on my game. ... If I had to choose another coach, I didn't have time to commit to that. Nor did I want to at that time."
Though he stopped short of saying he would revamp his swing like he did with Butch Harmon and Hank Haney — or even if he's working full-time with Foley — Woods is pleased with the feedback he's gotten from Foley so far.
Foley walked with Woods for the first five holes of Wednesday's pro-am, occasionally pulling out his camera to shoot Woods' swing. The two peered through the camera after Woods teed off on the sixth hole, and both seemed happy as Foley strolled away.
"I understand what he's trying to teach, so that's the biggest thing," Woods said. "And then when you're out on the golf course playing, it's understanding how to fix it. That's the hardest part."
If Woods has his game back under control, it could make for a very interesting week.
The top 30 in the FedEx Cup standings after the BMW advance to the Tour Championship, and a shot at the $10 million bonus. Matt Kuchar remains atop the FedEx Cup standings with a win and a tie for 11th in the two playoff events. Steve Stricker is No. 3 in the FedEx Cup standings, and he has a history of playing well at Cog Hill, too.
Woods is ranked 51st, but consider he's jumped 61 spots in the last two weeks; he was 112th going into the Barclays. Consider, too, that one of Woods' victories at Cog Hill was last year, when he shot 62-68 on the weekend to finish eight shots ahead of the field.
"I'm headed in the right direction," he said when asked what a victory would mean. "It obviously would be a good step in the right direction, but we've got four days, and I've just got to keep plodding along."
Woods has missed the Tour Championship before, but not because he wasn't eligible. Even so, his primary goal has never changed. Asked if he would play differently down the stretch if he were a long shot to win the tournament and playing safe meant finishing high enough to get to the Tour Championship, he didn't hesitate.
"Win," Woods said. "Did I answer that too fast?"
"I don't play an event just to play. Why do that?" he added. "I'm in the event to win the tournament. That's the goal, and it's always been that way since I was very little."