PARAMUS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Fans flocked to Ridgewood Country Club on Thursday morning to watch Tiger Woods begin his quest for the FedExCup title.
Woods, fresh off a rousing second-place finish at the PGA Championship, played in the first round of The Northern Trust.
The top 125 players in the world are competing this week in the first part of what is effectively the PGA Tour’s season championship, but as CBS2’s Jessica Moore quickly found out, most fans only had eyes for Tiger.
“I’m watching him on the range. He’s hitting them pure. He’s hitting some great shots. Some baby fades. It’s what I like to see out of him. You know, we had a great second-place finish last time. I’m hoping this time he can come out on top,” one fan said.
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Golf nuts invaded Ridgewood County Club to witness Woods take the next step in his comeback. Many thought his days as an elite players were over not too long ago when injuries and off-the-course problems threatened to derail one of the great careers the sport has ever seen.
“This is my first time watching him, ever. First time at a PGA event,” another fan said. “It’s just an honor to see him. I never thought he would be out here again. It’s great to see.”
After narrowly missing out on a win at the PGA Championship two weeks ago, Woods said prior to this tournament that the pressure is on to perform well for New York and New Jersey fans.
“They’re into it. They’re supportive. A huge sporting town. A little bit more opinionated than most cities,” Woods said. “It certainly becomes a lot more opinionated when they tip back a couple, so we’ll hear some of that this weekend.”
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Stuck on 14 career major championships since 2008, Woods, even in defeat at Bellerive, gave fans a performance they’d been waiting years to see. Ratings for the PGA Championship on CBS were higher than they’ve been since the last time Tiger almost won and were up 69 percent over last year. Woods’ star power played a huge role in boosting the numbers.
“You certainly see a bump in ticket sales when he commits,” PGA Tour communications director Chris Reimer said. “He’s playing really, really well, finished second and is 1-under today as he’s making the turn. He’s really close to winning and really close to getting that next victory under his belt.”
Woods finished his round at even-par 71, five strokes behind the morning leaders.
Win or lose, Tiger’s comeback has fans believing in second chances.
“I’m absolutely inspired,” a fan said. “I thought he was done, then he’d give us hope and then take it away from us. He’d be doing great and then some choke would happen. In the past couple of weeks we’ve seen him come back, you know.”
Be sure to catch Rounds 3 and 4 of The Northern Trust this weekend right here on CBS2.