Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tiger talks of recovery, behavior, Olympics

"This is the best field we play against. It's the deepest field that we have. You beat this field, and you have beaten the best in all of golf."
Those words were spoken by Tiger Woods during a news conference Tuesday at the PGA Championship, which starts Thursday at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn., a suburb of Minneapolis.
Woods always is the center of attention at any PGA Tour event, most certainly at any of the four major championships. He comes to Hazeltine with back-to-back victories and is the favorite to win his 15th major championship.
With last week's win at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, Woods earned his 70th professional title and trails only Sam Snead (82) and Kathy Whitworth (88) in the total wins column.
His performance in the three majors this year has been less than what we have come to expect from Tiger. Last month, he even missed his second career cut in a major championship at the British Open. Has he been relaxed in the majors this year?
"I wasn't at The Masters. I had been gone for a long time," Woods said. "As the summer has gone by,
I have gotten more and more comfortable.
"Early in the year, I didn't want to hurt my knee. I tried to let it heal properly and rely on other parts of my game, like my chipping and putting. Recently, I have practiced better because I haven't had to worry about the knee.
"A year ago in August, I was on crutches, and no one could ever imagine me having a year like this. I don't think anybody thought that I could win this many events this year," said Woods, a five-time winner in 2009.
Woods was free with opinions on other subjects.
When asked about the possibility of golf in the 2016 Olympics, he said, "Golf is truly a global sport. It would be great for golf. If I am not retired, I might play."
Regarding his well-noted on-course behavior, specifically swearing and club pounding, he said, "It is what it is. I don't mean to. I am trying to get better. It happens from time to time. I just have to keep working on it."
His fist-pumps and high-fives are legendary. Of them he said: "I do get excited and my emotions do come out. You don't plan it. It happens in the heat of the moment. It's high density and, yeah, I get excited."
"I didn't realize how stupid it looks. When I watched the replay of the putt I holed against Rocco (Mediate) to get in the playoff at the (U.S.) Open, I felt pretty stupid," Woods said with a grin.
He also weighed in on Hazeltine and its record length, 7,647 yards.
"It's a pretty long course," Woods said. "I roasted a driver on number 12 (a 518-yard par-4) and then hit a full three-iron."
Woods will take today off because he has played three straight weeks. He cited his rigorous training regime as key during stretches like this.
When asked who was a better player, the dominant Tiger Woods of 2000 or today's Tiger, the response was immediate.
"I like me now," he said. "I know how to manage my game around the golf course better than I did nine years ago. Those years of experience have helped me to understand how to play the game better. I will probably say the same thing nine years from now."
This is a busy week for me. My official PGA duties are nonstop from dawn to dark.
Monday night I attended a surprise birthday party hosted by Corey Pavin, 2010 Ryder Cup captain, for his wife, Lisa. In attendance were Jim Nantz of CBS and tour players Zach Johnson, Paul Goydos, Cameron Beckman, Ben Crane and Pat Perez.
Tuesday night was the Past Champions Dinner hosted by Padraig Harrington, defending PGA Champion. The menu was Irish stew and salmon, with Irish whiskey as dessert. This is always a highlight of the week.
We have a dinner Thursday night hosted by CBS, our media partner, which features all of the network's talent and the PGA officers.
Saturday afternoon, I will announce the final five groups to tee off of on hole No. 1. This will be aired on CBS. Sunday, I will be on the 18th green for the Wanamaker Trophy presentation.
It should be a memorable week, and I look forward to sharing it with you.
Ted Bishop is director of golf for The Legends of Indiana Golf Course in Franklin and secretary for PGA of America.

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