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August 30 — After all the questions about  will-he-or-won’t-he make it into the Deutsche Bank Championship, Tiger Woods breezed in with a final-round 4-under 67 at The Barclays and was already looking beyond the annual Labor Day weekend event to the FedEx Cup final.

Planning ahead. “The next three venues I’ve won on,” Woods told reporters after finishing The Barclays at 7-under, in a tie for 12th place, and five strokes behind winner Matt Kuchar. The Defending FedEx Cup champ referred to the Deutsche Bank Championship’s TPC Boston, Cog Hill for the BMW Championship, and the Tour Championship’s East Lake Golf Club.

The Barclays was the first stop on the PGA Tour’s post-season race to the FedEx Cup. The top 100 players from last week will tee it up Friday in Boston for the tour’s only scheduled Monday finish. Woods began the week at 112th on the points list and had to finish no lower than 57th advance. He finished The Barclays at 65th.

Confident stroke. Woods, who looked like the golf ace of yore when he fired an opening-round 6-under 65 at Ridgewood Country Club, scuffled his way through his two middle rounds. He seemed to find new confidence with his wayward putter during his final round and will have to continue the solid play to make it to the finals since only the top 30 after Cog Hill head to East Lake in Atlanta.

For Woods, it’s a matter of following the practice regimen he’s been working on with swing doctor Sean Foley. “Just keep progressing what I’m doing,” a “very pleased” Woods said.

“I found something in my stroke today when I was warming up and I went with it,” he said. “I hit a lot of good putts today.”

Could’ve been a contender. Indeed, Woods said his game was rounding into form nicely. But for his flat stick, he believed he could have been a contender (if you forget about the triple-bogey he had on Saturday’s first hole).

“If I would have putted like I did today in the middle two rounds, I would be right up there,” Woods said. “I certainly haven’t won all year, but this is a week that I was very close.”

Still No. 1. In a hint that the old Tiger is lurking within, Woods was first in the field in driving accuracy (despite that first shot on Saturday that he duck-hooked out of bounds, leading to the seven on the par-4 first hole). He also need only 27 putts in the final round, compared with 33 and 29 on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

Next stop: TPC Boston, where Steve Stricker hopes to defend his Deutsche Bank Championship title.

(Emily Kay is a regular contributor to New England Golf Monthly. Check her out at the Boston Golf Examiner and National Golf Examiner websites.)

WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?