Clearly, there’s strong mutual respect between Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning.
In Monday’s edition of The Times, Manning recounted discussions he had with Woods about carrying on with a career after a string of major operations. Manning won a Super Bowl after four neck surgeries; Woods won the Masters after four back surgeries.
Woods elaborated on the topic in his news conference Tuesday in preparation for the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black.
He remembers playing at Medalist Golf Club in Florida with Manning in 2012, after the quarterback had left Indianapolis and had signed with Denver. At the time, Manning told Woods he was able to do only six pushups — yet he went on to win comeback player of the year that season, and his fifth most valuable player award a year later.
“So just because someone doesn't have the strength to do something, he's going to figure out a different way,” Woods said. “And that's what we were talking about when we played, is that I don't have a fastball, he can't zip the ball into those tight little windows or in — he has to anticipate more. He has to do more work in the film room. I had to do more work on managing my game, my body, understanding it, what I can and cannot do, shots that I see I could pull off or better save it for another day. And more than anything, trying to figure out how to be explosive day in and day out.
“I've got to be ready. He's got to be ready 16 games.
“Granted, no one is hitting me. … I'm more like what baseball players feel like during the season. Every day you're playing the game, you're playing it all the time and trying to be mentally fresh and ready.“
“Peyton did an incredible job, won a couple MVPs, Super Bowl, all with a fused neck. That's ridiculous. It goes to show you how talented he is and how smart he is.”
Rory McIlroy, who has won this tournament twice, tries to get away from the intensity of a major when he steps off the course.
“Try to get a good TV show to watch,” he said. “I've got to catch up on the latest episode of [Showtime’s] ‘Billions.’ I missed that on Sunday night. You know, try to go to the gym three or four times during that week. I was in the gym this morning.
“Yeah, apart from that, just playoff basketball is on. Unbelievable game between the Raptors and the 76ers the other night. Looking forward to the two series that are coming up. You know, just anything to get my mind away from this.”
Top of the world
For the third consecutive year, Dustin Johnson comes into the PGA at No. 1 in the world rankings. That hasn’t translated into victories in the biggest tournaments, though, as his one win in a major came at the 2016 U.S. Open.
“I mean, disappointed I wouldn't go with, but a little frustrated sometimes just because I've had quite a few chances and I've felt like a few of them I really didn't do anything,” Johnson said. “I played well. But that's just how it is. It's hard to win majors. If it was easy, a lot of guys would have a lot more than they do.”
He said the prodigious length of Bethpage Black fits his game well.