Woods Lands At Southern Hills
The 2007 champion gets in 9 holes Sunday and looks ready to go. Plus, a look back at his 63 here, field comings and goings, and why the range is backwards (hint: athletes!).
Tiger Woods rolled into Tulsa midday Sunday and got to work in quest of his 16th major championship and second win at Southern Hills. Following a brief range session he strolled—ok it’s a gimp—in good spirits and even better form.
Woods spoke to a half dozen reporters as he played from the expected tees to be employed for this week and putted to hole locations working off last year’s Senior PGA Championship pin sheet. (And in Team Reed’s mind, privileged info derived from the course whisperer, a.k.a. Director of Golf Cary Cozby.
Woods confirmed he’s in a strong place now 30 days removed from the Masters final round.
“I’ve gotten a lot stronger since the Masters,” he said. “We went back to work on Tuesday [after Augusta]. Monday [after] was awful. I did nothing and Tuesday was leg day.”
Woods spoke about the significant course changes since he won here 15 years ago, noting how tree removal opened up the property ala Oakmont. And, in a nice nod to the agronomists, so that the “grass can grow”.
While Southern Hills is still much more tree-lined than Oakmont, it has seen significant yardage added since his PGA win here. Playing somewhere between 6,907 to 6,973 yards during the first six majors here starting in 1958, it jumped to 7,131 for the 2007 PGA and will clock in around 7,556 this week.
While he seems to like the new-look Southern Hills, Woods smiled.
“But I don’t like any course that gets longer.”
A 357-yard drive at the second suggests he can handle the extra distance.
To get the added yardage since 2007, several holes will have players teeing off over portions of the previous greens, setting up the potential for “flow issues” as Woods put it.
“I don’t know how they’re going to get us around,” he said. “So we’ll see how Kerry [Haigh, PGA of America] sets it up.”
The 1st/10th tee, 3rd/6th/7th tees and 12th/13th present this issue depending on where the setup crew places the markers.
A few other notes:
Woods teed off the first hole and was joined by Gary Woodland at the fifth tee.
His walking appears improved and he’s added some weight back after looking thin by the end of Masters week. The biceps are…robust!
He hit two tee shots off the first, a 3-wood that left him 190 out as the wind was really blowing. The shot bounced off the left side of 1 green and ended up on 4 tee. It would be the worst shot he hit all round.
Woods pulled out the “stinger” at the 4th and 7th holes when playing the forward teeing ground. He also hit it again at the 9th as the wind continued to blow.
He teed off a bit earlier than planned due to forecasted storms that mercifully did not materialize in any significant way. Morning forecasts warned of potential golf ball-sized hail.
Caddie Joe LaCava anticipates a better week from Woods after the difficulty of walking Augusta National. From Bob Harig’s story on Sunday’s round: “It’s the hardest walk out there,’’ LaCava said. “No excuses. That’s just a fact. This (Southern Hills) is no piece of cake either, but I’ll be a little less taxing in the walk.’’