Woods in better place heading into this PGA Championship
SAN FRANCISCO — The course is one Tiger Woods knows well and where he has winning memories. The PGA Championship is a major he has won four times, more than anyone except Jack Nicklaus and Walter Hagen.
Woods learned last year that brings no guarantee of playing well. Coming off the deep emotions of a Masters victory that capped his remarkable comeback, Woods lasted only two days at Bethpage Black and missed the cut.
He said Tuesday he’s in a much better place at TPC Harding Park.
Never mind that Woods has played only one tournament — a tie for 40th at the Memorial — in the last six months because of the COVID-19 pandemic and his own limited schedule. The biggest difference was showing up on Sunday in the sunshine to play 18 holes at Harding Park, followed by nine holes Monday as fog crept through the cypress trees.
A year ago, he played 18 holes a week before the PGA Championship and only nine holes in the three days leading to the opening round. This year, his approach appears more serious.
“After I won the Masters, it was a bit of a whirlwind,” Woods said. “We got a chance to go to the White House and meet with our president. I celebrated winning the Masters for quite some time. Came to Bethpage and played awful, and felt like Brooks [Koepka] beat me by like 30 shots in two days.”
It wasn’t that bad. Koepka beat him by only 17 and went on to win a second straight Wanamaker Trophy.
“My game is better than it was going into that PGA,” Woods said, “and hopefully, I can put it together this week.”
They were encouraging words, not quite to the level he shared about a few past majors. Woods said that only three times in the 15 majors he won did he realize “all I had to do was keep my heartbeat going and I was going to win.”
He can’t predict how his surgically repaired back will feel tomorrow, much less for an entire week. And he hasn’t competed enough lately to get a true sense of how he will perform.
Woods just knows it will be quiet. This is the first major without spectators.
Tiger Woods and Billy Horschel share a laugh during practice at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco on Tuesday.