The course is one Tiger Woods is aware of properly and the place he has profitable reminiscences. The PGA Championship is a significant he has received 4 occasions, greater than anybody besides Jack Nicklaus and Walter Hagen.
Woods realized final yr that brings no assure of enjoying properly.
Coming off the deep feelings of a Masters victory that capped his outstanding comeback, Woods lasted solely two days at Bethpage Black and missed the lower.
He mentioned Tuesday he’s in a a lot better place on the TPC Harding Park.
By no means 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 exhibiting 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 yr 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 yr, his strategy seems extra severe.
“After I received the Masters, it was a little bit of a whirlwind,” Woods mentioned. “We received an opportunity to go to the White Home and meet with our president. I celebrated profitable the Masters for fairly a while. Got here to Bethpage and performed terrible, and felt like Brooks (Koepka) beat me by like 30 photographs 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 sport is healthier than it was going into that PGA,” Woods mentioned, “and hopefully, I can put it collectively this week.” They have been encouraging phrases, not fairly to the extent he shared about a number of previous majors. Woods mentioned that solely thrice within the 15 majors he received did he notice “all I needed to do was preserve my heartbeat going and I used to be going to win.” One was his 12-shot victory within the 1997 Masters. The others have been his 15-shot win at Pebble Seaside in 2000 and his eight-shot win at St. Andrews in 2000.
“My sport was clicking on all cylinders for possibly the week prior. The week of it, received a bit bit higher and simply needed to keep it the remainder of the week,” he mentioned.
“These have been the uncommon exceptions.” He can’t predict how his surgically repaired again will really feel tomorrow, a lot much less for a whole week. And he hasn’t competed sufficient currently to get a real sense of how he’ll carry out.
Woods simply is aware of it will likely be quiet. That 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 significant, irrespective of how silent it may be.
“The ambiance won’t be the identical, and I can say from expertise,” Jon Rahm mentioned.
“You’re coming down the stretch and also you’re hitting some photographs and also you don’t know what’s happening, you don’t know what the folks in entrance of you’re doing. And also you’re hitting photographs into the inexperienced and also you don’t know the way 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 most important 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 yr, 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 Seaside final summer time within the U.S. Open. Now he’s the two-time defending champion for the PGA, and he discovered some type final week with a runner-up end in a World Golf Championship.
“My sport feels prefer it’s in actually, actually good condition proper now,” he mentioned.
“Daily is much more comfy. I’m excited. This can be a big-boy golf course.” Harding Park at 7,251 yards feels lengthy at sea stage, with heavy air and marine layer so thick that the solar is a rumor. The PGA Championship has by no means been identified for its sweaters. Woods mentioned he was on the vary Monday listening to gamers who have 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 occasions 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 didn’t really feel proper within the July warmth of Ohio for a number of days. That’s one space of his sport Woods can’t management.
“I do know I received’t have the identical vary of movement as I might again dwelling in Florida the place it’s 95 daily. That’s simply the best way it’s,” Woods mentioned. “I feel the climate forecast is meant to be like this all week — marine layer, cool, windy, and we’re all going to must cope with it.”