Tiger Woods ready for the PGA Championship … without spectators

SAN FRANCISCO – Tiger Woods knows the course he is about to negotiate well, having had some great memories there. He has won the PGA Championship four times, more than anyone except Jack Nicklaus and Walter Hagen.
Woods learned last year that it doesn’t guarantee anything in his game.

After capping his return to the game with a spectacular Masters victory, Woods spent just two days on the fairways of Bethpage Black before missing the threshold for qualifying for the weekend’s rounds.

He said he is much more optimistic for the tournament which will take place at TPC Harding Park on Thursday.

It doesn’t matter that he’s played just one tournament – he tied for 40th at the Memorial – in the past six months due to the coronavirus pandemic and his light schedule.

He showed up on the first tee at Harding Park on Sunday morning, as the first rays of sun pierced the clouds, to play a full round, then followed it up with nine more holes on Monday morning, as fog blanketed. cypress trees and the thermometer barely showed 10 degrees Celsius.

A year ago, he had played a full round a week before the PGA Championship, and nine more holes just three days before the tournament’s first round. This year, his approach seems more serious.

“After the Masters, I was in a whirlwind,” said Woods. I was able to go to the White House and meet the president. I celebrated this victory at the Masters Tournament for quite a while. Then I showed up at Bethpage and played terrible. I felt like Brooks [Koepka] had beaten me 30 times in two days. “

It wasn’t that bad. Koepka dominated him by just 17 strokes, en route to a second straight Wanamaker Trophy.

“After the Masters Tournament, I was caught in a whirlwind. I was able to go to the White House and meet the president. I celebrated this victory at the Masters Tournament for quite a while. Then I showed up at Bethpage and played terrible. “
– Tiger Woods

“My game is better now than it was at the same time last year,” Woods continued, “and I hope I will be able to put all the pieces of the puzzle together at the same time this week.”

Obviously, he can’t predict how his back will behave tomorrow, let alone a week from now. And he hasn’t been in enough tournaments lately to know where his game is.

Without spectators

Woods and the other PGA golfers will also have to get used to playing without spectators. “She’s a stranger. I don’t know if any of our generation has ever played without a fan in a major tournament. It’s going to be very different, ”said Woods.

“But it’s still a major tournament. The best golfers in the world are still here. We all understand that going there and there will still be plenty of energy from that point of view, ”he added. “As much as if there was an audience, that we don’t know. I hope I can put myself in a position where I can feel like I can win even without a fan base, ”continued the American.

Woods had previously tasted a closed-door competition in July in Ohio at the Muirfield Village tournament. “This situation never happened. This is the new world we live in. We have to get used to it, ”he said.

Harding Park is a 7251 yard course that sits at sea level. The air is heavy, and the sea breeze is so strong that it is very rare to see the sun breaking through the clouds. The PGA Championship has rarely been held in fall conditions. Woods said he listened to fellow golfers at the driving range on Monday discuss the last tournament in Memphis, Tennessee, and how the ball traveled less.

The cool air could cause a headache for Woods, who has had four back surgeries and has had his fair share of trouble in cold weather.

His back played a trick on him in the Riviera, a suburb of Los Angeles, in February, forcing him to be away for a few weeks. Then the pandemic struck. And again, her back caused her trouble in the July heat in Ohio for a few days. This is something Woods can never control.

“I know I won’t be as flexible as when I play at home in Florida, where it’s 30 degrees Celsius every day. It’s like that, he explained. I believe the weather forecast will be similar throughout the week – sea breeze, cool weather, wind, but we will all have to deal with the same playing conditions. ”