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July 3 2012

6:45 PM

Woods makes Greenbrier debut in form

Interview: Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods meets with the media and talks about his excitement to play in West Virginia at The Greenbrier for the first time.

By Brian Wacker, PGATOURCOM

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS. W. Va. -- Tiger Woods has been to a lot of places in the world. West Virginia wasn’t one of them, until this week.

Woods is playing The Greenbrier Classic for the first time in his career.

He does, however, have a connection to the Mountain State. Woods’ roommate his freshman year at Stanford was from here, and the late Sam Snead was the pro emeritus at The Greenbrier.

Only Snead, whom Woods first met when he was 5 years old, stands in Woods’ way for the most career wins on the PGA TOUR with 82. Woods got his 74th career victory at last week’s AT&T National, where he surpassed Jack Nicklaus for second place.

“Sam’s record, to do it for that long, is just absolutely phenomenal,” Woods said of Snead, whose last victory came at age 52. “He didn’t exactly have easy guys to play against, Hogan and Nelson. Those guys aren’t chops.

“[Snead’s] swing is one of the classic swings that we all try and replicate, we all looked at it, we all analyzed it and we all tried to do it. He was blessed just like Hogan with amazing flexibility that a lot of guys just can’t do. I mean, he’s kicking door archways in his 50s and 60s.”

There was a time not all that long ago when Woods’ swing had its share of critics.

Some thought he might never win again, much less approach Snead’s record. He’s proven them wrong, however, with three victories this year -- more than any other player on TOUR so far this season.

One reason why is that Woods finally has an understanding of the swing changes he’s been working on with coach Sean Foley, evidenced by the fact that Foley no longer looms over every shot Woods hits on the practice range.

Still, it was a putting tip from longtime friend and former college teammate Notah Begay III that helped Woods win last week.

“It was more of a philosophical talk,” Woods said of his discussion with Begay last Tuesday. “He made me think back to some of my things I used to think about in college, how I told him how to putt. He said, ‘You might want to go back to that,’ so I did and I putted pretty good.”

The rest of his game has been pretty good, too.

Woods leads in scoring average, is fifth in total driving and 10th in greens in regulation. He’s won three times in his last seven starts and tops the FedExCup standings, something he hasn’t done since 2009.

And with every passing week, Woods’ confidence continues to manifest itself.

“If you have a positive tournament, you try and ride that,” Woods said. “If you have a negative tournament, that didn’t exist.”

As well as Woods played last week, however, he still spent some time during a commercial shoot to work on a few things in his swing. He also dialed up Foley, who pointed out a few things that needed some work.

This week, the process, as Woods so often calls it, continues.

“Sometimes it’s not quite there,” he said. “But I know the fixes. I don’t have to learn a system and have [Sean’s] eyes there all the time.”

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