SAN FRANCISCO – The process Tiger Woods goes through for competitive golf is not outlined in detail, but understandably involves more than a few toe touches and normal swings on the training ground.
Woods would stay up for a few hours before teeing off, do warm-up training and visit a coach, often to work his neck and back.
Because he no longer travels with his own fitness guru, Woods often relies on coaches provided by the PGA Tour or, in the case of this week’s PGA Championship, coaches at TPC Harding Park.
So it was said that in one of the scrims days before the PGA Championship, Woods felt good enough to give up a stop on the way to prepare for the tournament, a pleasant surprise for him in the battle. with back stiffness.
Great work? Maybe not. But for a guy who made news because he changed his club, Woods going through a week without any physical problems is a must.
That could be the biggest achievement for Woods after his 37th draw at the PGA Championship, where he shot 67 finals, made a few more putts and often left San Francisco with a brighter outlook. with overcast foggy skies depicted.
“For me, I’m always concerned about my health,” said Joe LaCava, Woods’ caddy. “I think he feels healthy. That’s big for me. If he feels healthy and healthy, I know he can play. There are lots of good and quality drives [Sunday]We made it easier, but he hit a lot of good shots, something I’ve always wanted to see. ”
Woods clearly has work to do. He struggled on the pitch, had difficulty getting the ball on the fairway consistently, and wasn’t a regular star with his iron play – but he still ended up underneath, turning what was worth it. should have been a really bad round on Saturday into a 72, and possibly leaving Harding Park with so much to build up.
But it all comes back to his health. Now a busy time awaits, some of which explains why he hasn’t played more so far. Woods took a break this week before FedEx Cup knockout stages kick off with the Northern Trust at TPC Boston on 20 August.
At No. 47 on the FedEx Cup standings, Woods cannot skip that tournament if he intends to go to Atlanta for the Tour Championship, where he has won his 80th at the PGA Tour in 2018. Woods has 604 points – with 500 of them coming from his October victory at the Zozo Championship in Japan.
That meant the likelihood he would play for weeks in a row, which he hasn’t done since the Hero World Challenge and the Presidential Cup in December. And at that Pres President Cup, he had can skip a day because of back stiffness.
“We practiced for that,” said Woods. “Trying to gain my strength and resilience, that ability to make sure I can handle that kind of work. We knew when I started playing again when I pledged to Memorial that this would be a heavy workload and that my training sessions we worked out pretty hard, making sure I got it. its strength and endurance.
“This will make no difference. We will do our best to make sure I can keep the strength and the stamina to continue. ”
That’s all well and good, but still Woods’ game problem. He’s only played twice in nine weeks since the PGA Tour returned from a break due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now he can play four times in five weeks, including the US Open.
“Some work needs to be done,” said LaCava, “He knows that. He needs to tighten up his short game a bit, do it at home. You just need to continue working with it. To me it’s just a lack of golf in tournaments, you know what I mean? You cannot copy it at home. I understand. He doesn’t play those events, and he won’t add tournaments. He’s locked in virus time, so I understand that. It’s not a complaint, it’s just a fact. But I just think he needs more representation at this point. ”
Woods is likely to take them, and that would be a balancing act. He wanted to make it to the Tour Championship, but he didn’t seem to know that there was only one week off between that tournament and the US Open had been rescheduled. He needs to play, but he doesn’t need to play too much.
And he needs to work in his game in the areas that put the most pressure on his back – put, play bunker, play wedge.
Getting used to the different polishing surfaces and speeds requires a lot of practice, one of the reasons he turns to a longer batter. The bunkers made it hard for everyone in Harding Park, and Woods managed to convert only 2 out of 11 save chances partly due to placing and placing. And Woods is still on average when it comes to wedge shots, with his approach averaging 42 feet for 100 to 125 yards of hole-to-hole.
Woods reached out to another model of Scotty Cameron that he has used for most of his career with mixed results; His troubles are about green speed and adapting to them rather than hitting the ball. And he said working with a longer putter will help him practice longer.
“Hopefully there are at least two more tournaments to make it to the winner’s round,” LaCava said. “He’s got a win this season [Japan]But he wants one by calendar year. He only played four times [in 2020]. For me, the Tour championship isn’t too much – which will be a bonus at the moment – just giving us two more chances to win a tournament. That’s what we were looking for. ”
Of course, Woods and LaCava are looking beyond the FedEx playoffs. The US Open will take place next month. The Masters is scheduled for November. In the middle, there is a Zozo title defense, likely at a location that will be relocated to the United States.
There is plenty of golf to play. How much of it – and how effective he can be – are big questions for Woods.