Woods pleased with his game, feels optimistic
By T.J. Auclair, PGA.com Interactive Producer
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Nobody in golf has been more dominant in 2013 than Tiger Woods.
The world’s No. 1-ranked player has five wins to his credit this season, including an incredible seven-shot romp in last week’s World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone.
“I had a great week last week, I've had a couple nice days of practice,” Woods said on Tuesday. “Yesterday was very light. Today I did a little bit more work, and you know, still got one more day to prep and prepare. The golf course is in fantastic shape. It's dry now, it's got some speed to it, and the rough is certainly up, and it's clumpy. It's imperative to hit the ball in the fairways and hit the ball on the greens, because it's going to be tough to get up and down.”
Firestone, of course, has been kind to Woods through the years. It’s a place where he’s won a remarkable eight times.
Naturally, Woods is the favorite here at Oak Hill Country Club this week to pull off something he hasn’t done since the summer of 2008 – win a major championship.
Granted, winning a major is by no means easy. Woods just made it look that way as he racked up 14 of them in such a short period of time to pull within four of tying the record mark of 18 held by Jack Nicklaus.
As seemingly easy as it was for Woods to win the first 14, it’s almost been equally difficult to snag No. 15. And it’s not because he hasn’t been in the mix, either. Since that 2008 U.S. Open win at Torrey Pines, Woods has played in 17 majors (missing four over that time due to injury), racking up nine top-10 finishes over that span.
“It's been probably the longest spell that I've had since I hadn't won a major championship,” Woods said. “I came out here very early and got my first one back in '97. I've had, certainly, my share of chances to win. I've had my opportunities there on the back nine on those probably half of those Sundays for the last five years where I've had a chance, and just haven't won it. But the key is to keep giving myself chances, and eventually I'll start getting them.“
When the PGA Championship was held at Oak Hill a decade ago, Woods called it the toughest and fairest test he’d seen in a major. His tie for 39th that week was also his worst finish in major in his career as a professional to that point.
As was the case in 2003, Oak Hill is going to be a test in target golf. It’s tight, the rough is mean and the subtle break in the greens could drive players crazy.
“I think it's a fantastic golf course,” Woods said. “It's tough. It's right in front of you. Really, no surprises out there. You just have to play well. This is one of those courses where you've just got to bring it ball striking wise. You've got to hit the ball well.
Woods has done well the last several majors to get in a position to win, but just hasn’t been able to close it out. He’s optimistic that that could change this week.
“Well, the thing is, just keep building,” Woods said. “As I said, I have three days to prepare and continue to work on the things that I'm working on and get a feel for this golf course and how I'm going to play it. I've got two days in so far. Still got one more to go, and like to do a little bit more work tomorrow. Overall, I feel very pleased with where my game is at. I've played well in the last two tournaments I've played in, especially coming off a little bit of an injury at The Open and coming back and really played well in the last two tournaments, I'm very pleased about that.”
Regardless of what happens at Oak Hill, it’s been a fantastic year for Woods. But, he’d sure like another major – a fifth PGA Championship, which would tie Nicklaus and the late Walter Hagen for most all time.
“I think winning one major championship automatically means you had a great year,” he said. “Even if you miss the cut in every tournament you play in; you win one, you're part of history. This year, for me, I think it's been a great year so far for me, winning five times, and you look at the quality of tournaments I've won, a Players and two World Golf Championships in there, that's pretty good.”