Woods has Major momentum as he seeks to turn back the clock
American in good form and convinced he can add to his already staggering tally of 14 wins
Tiger Woods: “I’ve had my share of chances to win this year and hopefully I’ll get it done this week.” Photograph: Sam Greenwood/Getty
The things you have to do.
On Monday, Tiger Woods endured three ice baths. The test of endurance was a necessary evil, part of the process of recovery from his exertions in Akron where his back ached just a little more than it has done of late.
Remember, this is a back which has undergone four surgical procedures; the last one, a spinal fusion, which has allowed him play, compete and contend again.
But every time his back tweaks just a little, or aches a bit longer, there is the memory that he could hardly walk some 18 months ago never mind swing a club in anger. So, perspective!
And Woods admitted he needed a day of rest on Monday.
“I did, I needed that day off. I spent a few 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. I did a leg lift as well and was ready to go for today.”
His best-laid plans were undone, though. Woods had only managed five holes before the siren’s coarse sound warned of dangerous weather in the area around Bellerive Country Club in the affluent western suburbs of St Louis and, so, instead of working out a plan for a 15th career Major – and first since the US Open of 2008 – Woods was brought to the sanctuary of the tented media centre to tell us how he might actually achieve such a thing.
With the heavy rain providing an acoustic backdrop to his words, Woods talked of his recovery, of getting into the white heat of battle at last month’s British Open at Carnoustie, of Ryder Cup matters . . . . and, most intriguingly, of how he might win again in this US PGA Championship to provide a comeback of the sporting ages.
“I can’t do what I used to do 10, 15 years ago, but I’m still able to hit the majority of my shots, and I’ve had to learn a golf swing that is restricted. I’ve never had a spinal restriction before, and I played all those years without it. Now, I’ve had a bum knee most of those years, but I could wheel it around that. But having a fixed point in my spine is very different.
“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 . . . just for me to be able to have this opportunity again is, it’s a dream come true!” said Woods, who showed some of his old self when moving into the lead heading into the back nine of last month’s Open.
As he put it: “It felt good, it felt very familiar. Unfortunately, I made two mistakes [on 11 and 12] and it cost me a chance to win the championship. I felt like I was in control of what I was doing, and that felt good. Unfortunately, I just didn’t do it.”
And, as far as the Ryder Cup is concerned, where he will be one of Jim Furyk’s vice-captains, but with an outside hope of actually making the team, Woods aims to break into the top-8 automatic selections which conclude after this PGA Championship.
“I’ve gone from zero to basically 20th (in the US Ryder Cup table) in seven months. I’m trending. So that’s all I’m going to say.”
A win would propel Woods into that automatic eight players (with Furyk naming his four wild cards in a few weeks, during the FedEx Cup play-offs).
“I’ve had my share of chances to win this year as well, and hopefully I’ll get it done this week,” said Woods.
That he is talking again like that is all you need to know that his mind is focused on adding another ‘W’ to his roll-of-honour. No longer is such a thought a flight of fancy.