Tiger Woods hasn’t won a major in 10-plus years and last prevailed at the PGA Championship in 2007.
But he certainly is presenting an opportunistic vibe as he seeks his fifth career PGA Championship this week at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis.
The way Woods sees it, he has put his recent back injury woes in the rearview mirror and can now concentrate on playing golf when he hits the course on Thursday in the 100th installment of the event.
“Well, just the fact that I’m playing the TOUR again, it’s been — just for me to be able to have this opportunity again is — it’s a dream come true,” Woods said during a press conference on Tuesday. “I said this many times this year, I didn’t know if I could do this again, and lo and behold, here I am. So just coming back and being able to play at this level and compete — I’ve had my share of chances to win this year as well, and hopefully I’ll get it done this week.”
Woods has played in 14 tournaments this season and has posted five top-10 finishes. His best finish was second at the Valspar Championship in March when he lost to winner Paul Casey by one stroke.
On the other hand, he has missed two cuts — one being the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills in mid-June.
Last week, Woods finished in a tie for 31st at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitation, starting off with a 66 and 68 before finishing with back-to-back 73s. The even-par 280 was 15 strokes behind winner Justin Thomas.
His practice time on Tuesday was limited to five holes as heavy rains and thunderstorms ended his time on the course. But he wasn’t distressed because he physically needed a break. Woods said he was dealing with heavy soreness on Monday.
“I needed that day off,” Woods said. “Yesterday, I spent (three) times in the ice bath just trying to get some inflammation down and just trying to get ready for the rest of the week. And a lot of stretching. Did a leg lift yesterday as well and was ready to go for today.”
Woods declined to reveal where he was sore, but he touched on the differences of being back on Tour after the injuries as opposed to when he was dominating the PGA Tour in his 20s and early 30s.
“It’s just there’s going to be certain days that I’m just not going to have the speed and the flexibility and the movement that I once did,” Woods said. “I’m 42 now, and I’ve had four back surgeries. So things are going to be different from day-to-day, and it’s just about managing it. Before, and as I was alluding to earlier, I didn’t really have any of those issues when I was early in my career because I didn’t have a fixed point in my back.
“My knee used to hurt a lot, but I could play around that. Playing around my spine’s a little bit different.”
Woods has never played a tournament at Bellerive but was preparing to do so in 2001 when the event — the American Express Championship — was canceled after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
So he doesn’t have much familiarity to go on as he attempts to end his drought at major tourneys.
“Today we only got in five holes and didn’t really get a chance to see a whole lot, but I only remember a couple of the holes, but I didn’t really remember the first five that I played today,” Woods said. “And so I’ll have to do some more homework tomorrow and get a good feel for what’s going on for the rest of the week.”
–Field Level Media