Woods in a greater place heading into this PGA Championship

San Francisco, August 5

The course is one Tiger Woods is aware of nicely and the place he has successful recollections. The PGA Championship is a serious he has received 4 instances, greater than anybody besides Jack Nicklaus and Walter Hagen.

Woods realized final 12 months that brings no assure of taking part in nicely.

Coming off the deep feelings of a Masters victory that capped his exceptional comeback, Woods lasted solely two days at Bethpage Black and missed the reduce.

He mentioned Tuesday he is in a a lot better place on the TPC Harding Park.

Never thoughts that Woods has performed just one event — a tie for 40th on the Memorial — within the final six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic and his personal restricted schedule. The largest distinction was displaying up on Sunday within the sunshine to play 18 holes at Harding Park, adopted by 9 holes Monday as fog crept by way of the cypress timber and the temperature plunged into the 50s.

A 12 months in the past, he performed 18 holes every week earlier than the PGA Championship and solely 9 holes within the three days resulting in the opening spherical. This 12 months, his method seems extra severe.

“After I received the Masters, it was a little bit of a whirlwind,” Woods mentioned.

“We acquired an opportunity to go to the White House and meet with our president. I celebrated successful the Masters for fairly a while. Came to Bethpage and performed terrible, and felt like Brooks (Koepka) beat me by like 30 pictures in two days.”

It wasn’t that unhealthy. Koepka pipped him by solely 17 and went on to win a second straight Wanamaker Trophy.

“My game is better than it was going into that PGA,” Woods mentioned, “and hopefully, I can put it together this week.”      

They had been encouraging phrases, not fairly to the extent he shared about a number of previous majors. Woods mentioned that solely 3 times within the 15 majors he received did he notice “all I had to do was keep my heartbeat going and I was going to win.”

One was his 12-shot victory within the 1997 Masters. The others had been his 15-shot win at Pebble Beach in 2000 and his eight-shot win at St. Andrews in 2000.

“My game was clicking on all cylinders for maybe the week prior. The week of it, got a little bit better and just had to maintain it the rest of the week,” he mentioned.

“Those were the rare exceptions.” He cannot predict how his surgically repaired again will really feel tomorrow, a lot much less for a complete week. And he hasn’t competed sufficient these days to get a real sense of how he’ll carry out.

Woods simply is aware of it is going to be quiet. This is the primary main with out spectators. The ambiance is nothing new for gamers who’ve been again at work for the final two months on the fan-free PGA Tour. The stakes are greater now with a serious, regardless of how silent it is likely to be.

“The ambiance is not going to be the identical, and I can say from expertise,” Jon Rahm mentioned.

“You’re coming down the stretch and also you’re hitting some pictures and you do not know what is going on on, you do not know what the folks in entrance of you’re doing. And you are hitting pictures into the inexperienced and you do not know how shut they are often. It’s very odd down the stretch.” 

It wasn’t something like that when Woods received at Harding Park in 2005, beating John Daly in a World Golf Championship that felt like a rock live performance with two of the largest attracts in golf — one predictable, the opposite not a lot — in a playoff. It was so loud that Woods recalled being half-deaf from the screaming.

And now there are solely silent expectations, for him and so many others.

For the second straight 12 months, Koepka involves Northern California with an opportunity to win the identical main three years in a row, a feat achieved by solely six gamers within the 160-year historical past of the majors. He was runner-up at Pebble Beach final summer season within the US Open. Now he is the two-time defending champion for the PGA, and he discovered some kind final week with a runner-up end in a World Golf Championship.

“My game feels like it’s in really, really good shape right now,” he mentioned.

“Every day is a lot more comfortable. I’m excited. This is a big-boy golf course.”          

Harding Park at 7,251 yards feels lengthy at sea degree, with heavy air and marine layer so thick that the solar is a hearsay. The PGA Championship has by no means been identified for its sweaters. Woods mentioned he was on the vary Monday listening to gamers who had been in Memphis, Tennessee, final week speaking concerning the distinction in how far the ball was going.

The cool air will be a difficulty for Woods, who has had 4 again surgical procedures and has struggled at instances within the chill.

His again acted up within the chilly of Riviera in Los Angeles in February, main him to take off a number of weeks, after which the pandemic shut down golf. Then once more, his again did not really feel proper within the July warmth of Ohio for a number of days. That’s one space of his recreation Woods cannot management.

“I know I won’t have the same range of motion as I would back home in Florida where it’s 95 every day. That’s just the way it is,” Woods mentioned.

“I think the weather forecast is supposed to be like this all week — marine layer, cool, windy, and we’re all going to have to deal with it.” AP

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