Tiger Woods ‘feeling explosive’ heading into PGA Tour
Reporting from Pebble Beach — Tiger Woods, wearing a windbreaker and answering questions both humorously and seriously, spoke nearly 1,540 words of insight about his own game and that of his amateur playing partner this week at the AT&T National Pro-Am, Dallas quarterback Tony Romo.
Woods, who finished first in his last tournament of 2011, his own event at the Chevron World Challenge at Sherwood Country Club, and third two weeks ago at a European Tour event in Abu Dhabi, makes his 2012 PGA Tour debut Thursday at Pebble Beach.
He comes back to the PGA Tour this season in a better physical state and in a better frame of mind, Woods said.
“I took a little time off and then when I went over to Abu Dhabi, I was working on the same things, on what I had been trying to do the last four events. It was very positive and everything is headed in the right direction.”
Woods paid tribute to Kyle Stanley, the 24-year-old who had given up a five-shot lead with a triple bogey eight on the final hole of Torrey Pines two weeks ago and lost in a playoff to Brandt Snedeker, then came from behind on the last day to beat Spencer Levin in Phoenix last week. He used Stanley’s story as an entree into speaking on how difficult it is to win on the PGA Tour.
“It’s hard to win,” Woods said. “Being a front-runner, then everyone’s chasing you and you’re in a position if you make a mistake you’re all right. If you’re off to a poor start early, you can still rectify it. It kind of all depends on how many are chasing you. A whole wolf pack? Or one or two guys. That’s a totally different deal.”
Woods said, either way, he’s excited to be in that leading position and feels that’s where he’ll find himself this season. He said that since he played the Frys.com Open in San Martin at the end of last year and then his own tournament at Sherwood Country Club, one major thing has changed.
“I’ve been able to train,” Woods said. “It’s two different deals, rehabbing and training. It’s two different scenarios. I’ve been pretty much rehabbing the last entire couple of years. Now I’m training. Now I can do the things [swing coach] Sean [Foley] wants me to do with my golf swing. For a long time I was limited … counting the number of balls I could hit, icing, all those monotonous things just to tee it up the next day. That’s no longer the case.
“My body is feeling explosive and I’m hitting the ball farther.”
Woods, 36, said he does feel his age. Though he understands, he said, how to manage a round more compactly and with the least amount of trouble, he also knows that his body will hurt, the joints will throb, the bones will ache. “It’s not like when I was 26,” he said.
Woods also said that he knows the young guys are ready to climb up and over his back.
“When I first came out,” Woods said, “I was the only guy in the gym. Me and Vijay [Singh], we’d be the only ones in the gym. Now everyone’s in the gym or has a personal trainer or a program to follow.
“Guys who grew up doing other sports have transitioned into our sport. One day we’ll get a guy who will be like Bo Jackson or Michael Jordan, who will be that explosive or that good an athlete and decide to play golf. What if we truly get superior athletes trying to play golf and has the mental aspects and the acuity to play? That’s when it will be really cool.
“And I’ll be shrimping it down the fairway, doing it a different way. That’s the cool thing about the game. You can do it so many different ways.”
Woods said even his amateur partner, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, expects to play well. “He understands how to play,” said Woods, who added that Romo sent him a swing tape to break down. “He can really move the ball.” And Woods said Romo tried to enter with a three handicap. If Woods has his way, that will be changed to scratch.
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