Woods in a better place heading into this PGA Championship

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The route is one Tiger Woods is aware of neatly and the place he has profitable recollections. The PGA Championship is a primary he has received 4 instances, greater than somebody except for Jack Nicklaus and Walter Hagen.

Woods discovered closing 12 months that brings no ensure of taking part in neatly.

Coming off the deep feelings of a Masters victory that capped his outstanding comeback, Woods lasted best two days at Bethpage Black and ignored the minimize.

He stated Tuesday he’s in a a lot better place on the TPC Harding Park.

Never thoughts that Woods has performed just one match — a tie for 40th on the Memorial — in the closing six months on account of the COVID-19 pandemic and his personal restricted time table. The greatest distinction used to be appearing up on Sunday in the light to play 18 holes at Harding Park, adopted by way of 9 holes Monday as fog crept throughout the cypress timber and the temperature plunged into the 50s.

A 12 months in the past, he performed 18 holes a week ahead of the PGA Championship and best 9 holes in the 3 days resulting in the hole spherical. This 12 months, his way seems extra severe.

“After I won the Masters, it was a bit of a whirlwind,” Woods stated. “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 dangerous. Koepka pipped him by way of best 17 and went directly to win a 2nd instantly Wanamaker Trophy.

“My game is better than it was going into that PGA,” Woods stated, “and hopefully, I can put it together this week.” They have been encouraging phrases, now not rather to the extent he shared about a few previous majors. Woods stated that best thrice in 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 used to be his 12-shot victory in the 1997 Masters. The others have 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 stated.

“Those were the rare exceptions.” He can’t are expecting how his surgically repaired again will really feel the next day, a lot much less for a whole week. And he hasn’t competed sufficient in recent years to get a true sense of the way he’s going to carry out.

Woods simply is aware of it’s going to be quiet. This is the primary primary with out spectators. The surroundings is not anything new for gamers who’ve been again at paintings for the closing two months at the fan-free PGA Tour. The stakes are upper now with a primary, regardless of how silent it may well be.

“The atmosphere will not be the same, and I can say from experience,” Jon Rahm stated.

“You’re coming down the stretch and you’re hitting some shots and you don’t know what’s going on, you don’t know what the people in front of you are doing. And you’re hitting shots into the green and you don’t know how close they can be. It’s very odd down the stretch.”

It wasn’t the rest like that after 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 golfing — one predictable, the opposite now not such a lot — in a playoff. It used to be so loud that Woods recalled being half-deaf from the screaming.

And now there are best silent expectancies, for him and such a lot of others.

For the second one instantly 12 months, Koepka involves Northern California with a likelihood to win the similar primary 3 years in a row, a feat accomplished by way of best six gamers in the 160-year historical past of the majors. He used to be runner-up at Pebble Beach closing summer time in the U.S. Open. Now he’s the two-time protecting champion for the PGA, and he discovered some shape closing 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 stated.

“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 stage, with heavy air and marine layer so thick that the solar is a rumor. The PGA Championship hasn’t ever been identified for its sweaters. Woods stated he used to be at the vary Monday paying attention to gamers who have been in Memphis, Tennessee, closing week speaking concerning the distinction in how a long way the ball used to be going.

The cool air can also be a subject matter for Woods, who has had 4 again surgical procedures and has struggled every now and then in the chilliness.

His again acted up in the chilly of Riviera in Los Angeles in February, main him to take off a few weeks, after which the pandemic close down golfing. Then once more, his again didn’t really feel proper in the July warmth of Ohio for a few days. That’s one house of his recreation Woods can’t keep an eye on.

“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 stated. “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.”

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