Sports

Woods seeks 16th Major; grouped with with McIlroy and Thomas at PGA Championship

V Krishnaswamy San Francisco | Updated on August 05, 2020 Published on August 05, 2020

A file picture of Tiger Woods   -  Reuters

Tiger Woods will tee off with Rory McIlroy and current World No. 1 Justin Thomas, as the PGA Championship becomes the first Major to tee off in 2020 at TPC Harding. Woods, who stunned the golfing world with a 15th Major at the Masters last year, is now in search of a 16th Major as he also attempts a fifth PGA crown which will tie him with Walter Hagen and Jack Nicklaus.

Woods who has played just one event – the Memorial - since February because of a back issue and Covid-19, however, feels that the cold weather and lack of competitive rounds will not be an impediment this week.

Woods would prefer moderate temperatures in the 80s-90s as it is Florida, while it is likely going to be mid-50s to low 60s, and a high possibility of morning fog with a chill in San Francisco. This would mean a more intense warm-up for Woods each day.

“It's always 20 degrees cooler here than it is down there in Palo Alto. We knew that coming in. I think the weather forecast is supposed to be like this all week. We are all going to have to deal with it,” said Woods.

“For me, when it's cooler like this, it's just to make sure that my core stays warm, layering up properly. I know I won't have the same range of motion as I would back home in Florida where it's 95 every day. That's just the way it is.”

Woods barely made the cut at the Memorial Tournament and finished in a tie for 40th. The Memorial was his first start in five months since ending 68th at The Genesis Invitational in February. His only other starts in this PGA Tour season came in 2019 at ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP in Japan last October which he won and the Farmers Insurance Open in January, where he was T-9.

Woods has a good feel for TPC Harding, where he has competed since college and also won a WGC in 2005. He was also part of the victorious US Presidents Cup team in 2009 at TPC Harding.

As for the PGA Championships, he has four wins and three second places.

The big hitters will have the advantage of distance, but Woods can outdo them with his iron play but needs to find the fairways.

“It's a par 70; it's not as long numbers-wise, but the ball never goes very far here. It plays very long, even though it's short on numbers,” said Woods of the 7,251-yard layout.

A tournament with Woods assumes great significance. And then there is a discussion on where else he will play in the remainder of 2020.

After the PGA, Woods will eye the FedEx Cup play-offs in August-September, followed by two other Majors of 2020 – the US Open in September and the Masters in November. In the period between the US Open and the Masters, eight events in the new 2020-21 season are scheduled, and they include the ZOZO Championship Woods won in 2019. But it is unclear whether he will play any, though having a start before the Masters is likely.

Then, of course, is his own event, the 18-man star-filled Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas in December.

McIlroy needs a win

McIlroy before the pandemic was in brilliant form. But he needs a win to find his way around – he has not won since the WGC-HSBC in Shanghai in October, 2019 and he has not won a Major since the 2014 PGA at Valhalla. Interestingly, McIlroy had a win at TPC Harding in the WGC in 2015.

The field is solid with 95 of the top 100 players in the world expected and Brooks Koepka after two straight wins seek a third, but will have no spectators to cheer him.

Meanwhile, the World No. 1 spot has become a bit of a rolling trophy in recent months. In 2020 alone Brooks Koepka, McIlroy, Rahm and the current No. 1 Justin Thomas have been on the top. The two preceding them were Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose. All of them are in the field this week.

Five of the world’s current Top-six – Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson are in the field. Add to them Justin Rose and Adam Scott.

Thomas’ lone Major came at the PGA in 2017, but the two PGA Championships since have been won by Koepka. Thomas skipped the 2019 edition due to wrist injury.

Koepka seeks to be the first golfer to win the PGA Championship three years in succession since Walter Hagen, who did it four in a row from 1924-1927 during the match-play era.

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Published on August 05, 2020
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