Tiger eyes 82nd TOUR win despite struggles on poa greens
June 11, 2019
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
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PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Clearly he’s not the 2000 version of Tiger Woods.
But that doesn’t mean the 81-time PGA TOUR winner can’t claim the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach for a second time.
Woods demolished the field 19 years ago on the iconic California coastal masterpiece, winning by 15 shots. He was the only player under par for the championship… some 12-under. It was an old-fashioned carve up of the course and of his competitors.
Back then it was brawn supported by brain. Now the brain takes the top notch, but the brawn is still there despite back-fusion surgery. Woods believes the advances in technology have allowed his aging body to still get to the places at Pebble he did in 2000. Of course, the difference this time around is the rest of the field can get there too.
“It's not the same body that I had back in 2000. I don't think any of us have the same body we had 19 years ago,” Woods said.
“The golf ball is going further than it did back in 2000, I'm slower than I was in 2000. Apples to oranges, I guess you could say. I am about the same distance. And so the golf course really doesn't play that much differently for me.
“It's just a matter of putting the ball in the right spots. I missed the ball in the correct spots (in 2000)… you look at all my angles. I did not hit every green. I did not hit every fairway, but I always had the proper angle. And gave me the best chance to get up-and-down. I poured everything in. Hopefully I can have one of those weeks on the greens again.”
Woods has proven he can win in his 40s. Since his return from the fourth back surgery, he has won the TOUR Championship and of course his 15th major championship at the Masters. He’s had great success on poa annua greens in his career – particularly at Torrey Pines, but this season, to an extent, they’ve had his number.
Woods has had 20 three-putts in 26 rounds this season with his worst weeks coming at the Genesis Open, the World Golf Championships – Mexico Championship and the PGA Championship. Those venues had poa greens. He knows the small putting surfaces at Pebble will once again be key. As such, he was putting extra practice work in and had putting coach Matt Killen in attendance.
“Putting on poa is very different than putting on bent. And so just trying to make sure that I'm rolling the ball like I need to for poa,” Woods explained.
“It doesn't take much to get off line on poa. It gets a little bumpy, you happen to catch those little seed heads start popping up, bent sits down, poa perks up. And good putts look like they should go in, don't go in. And you may pull one or push one that happens to bounce back in the hole.
“The trick to putting on poa is to make sure you’re always below the hole. If you're putting downhill, it's like a Plinko effect, you're going to go every which way. The key is to be below the hole where you can take low lines and try and take the bumpiness out of play.”
It’s unlikely Woods will win by 15 shots again, but if he masters the greens the record tying 82nd TOUR win is certainly in play.
“I feel like I’m trending in the right direction,” he smiled.