Tiger Woods prepared to play in 3 consecutive tournaments

Tiger: 'This entire year has been so different' (1:12)

Tiger Woods reflects on the highs and lows of his season so far. (1:12)

PARAMUS, N.J. -- Apparently unconcerned about playing three consecutive tournaments for the first time in more than five years, Tiger Woods is set to begin play Thursday at the first FedEx Cup playoff event, looking to qualify for the season-ending Tour Championship next month.

Woods, who is eligible for the FedEx Cup playoffs for the first time since 2013 because he finished 20th in the season-long points series, plays the first event, the Northern Trust, at Ridgewood Country Club.

The top 125 on the points list qualified for the tournament, with the top 100 after this event advancing to next week's Dell Technologies Championship. Woods is assured of making the field for the third event as well, the BMW Championship, which takes the top 70.

The top 30 after the BMW Championship qualify for the Tour Championship in Atlanta.

"I'm playing the first three right now and that should get me into Atlanta, and on the back side is obviously the Ryder Cup," Woods said before a practice round at Ridgewood. "Yeah, that is a lot of golf. As I was explaining to you guys back in Akron [at the Bridgestone Invitational], it's about pacing myself and making sure I don't practice too much, don't overdo it, and make sure my training schedule goes well.

"That's one of the hard things this year is trying to find the right balance, and as the summer has gone on, I've gotten better and felt better, and this is a pretty important stretch."

Woods is coming off a second-place finish at the PGA Championship on Aug. 12, which vaulted him up the FedEx standings and to 26th in the Official World Golf Ranking. When Woods, 42, played his first event in January at the Farmers Insurance Open, he was ranked 656th in the world.

That was the first of 14 tournaments he has played this year, with five top-10 finishes, including a runner-up at the Valspar Championship, a tie for sixth at The Open and the second at the PGA.

With a week off following the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA, Woods is now looking at three weeks in a row and four of five -- and if he's picked by captain Jim Furyk for the U.S. Ryder Cup team, tournament golf in five of seven weeks. There is an off week following the BMW Championship.

"As the summer has gone on, I've gotten better and felt better," said Woods, who is playing his first full season since undergoing a fourth back surgery in April 2017.

If he does play three straight weeks, it will be the first time Woods has done so since he played the WGC-Match Play, the Honda Classic and the WGC-Cadillac Championship in 2013.

And if he qualifies for the Tour Championship, Woods would reach 18 events for the season -- a first since he played 20 worldwide tournaments in 2012. That is the only time going back to 2005 that Woods has played as many as 18 tournaments.

Woods, who is a vice captain for the U.S. Ryder Cup team, finished 11th in the standings, with the top eight qualifying after the PGA Championship. If points had only been tallied in 2018, Woods would have finished eighth and automatically qualified.

Although he is widely believed to be a lock for one of Furyk's four picks, Woods gave nothing away.

"I want to be picked," he said. "I want to be part of the team. Yeah, I'm on the short list."

Others in the running for the picks are Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Kuchar, Kevin Kisner, Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Zach Johnson and perhaps Brandt Snedeker, who shot a 59 last week and won the Wyndham Championship.

Furyk will make his first three picks on Sept. 4, with the last pick on Sept. 10.

"I didn't know if I was going to play last year," Woods said. "I wasn't thinking about the tour. And now I'm contending at major championships. This is so special to have this opportunity."

And Woods did not temper expectations. For 10 years, he has been stalled on 14 major championship victories. For five years, he has been stuck on 79 PGA Tour victories. Asked if Sam Snead's record of 82 PGA Tour victories is as important as Jack Nicklaus' 18 major titles, Woods said:

"In order to get to Jack's record, I have to pass Snead's record. Just simple math. Yeah, in order to get to Jack's ultimate 18, I've got to pass Sam's, and I want to make that happen. I'm close. I have been close to winning tournaments this year. I think if I keep giving myself opportunities, I'll get the job done."