Some of the people who thought I was playing badly early in the year didnt really understand I really wasnt that far off, Woods said.
Granted I didnt really play great in the U.S. Open. But I thought in MY mind, if I had made that putt on 12 (Sunday), I would have been only three or four back of the lead. If I could have posted another three or four birdies coming in, I might have had a chance ' I thought. Even though I wasnt playing that well, I was kind of there.
And at the British Open, I didnt make birdie on 7 (Sunday), and if Id made birdie, Id only been two back of the lead. So, yeah, I was right there. I probably wouldnt have beaten David (Duval) that week, but at least I would have had somewhat of a chance.
He won the Masters, the first major of the year. He finished tied for 12th at the U.S. Open and tied for 25th in the British Open.
Even though I wasnt playing great in the last two majors, I kind of had a chance to put just a little bit of a run together where I really could have been in it, said Woods.
Retief Goosen won the U.S. Open and Duval the British Open. Still, however, Tiger is again the overwhelming favorite for the PGA. While Woods is not about to say he wont win this title for the third time in a row, he isnt nearly as confident as the bookmakers seem to be. Does he think he should be the favorite?
One of them, he said, smiling.
By any means that he slices it, though, Tiger realizes that this year hasnt been as great as his all-world year was last year. In stretches and spurts, he has played as well. But he hasnt played as well over a period of time.
I havent quite played as well over an entire tournament, he said. Ive played as well in spurts, I hit the ball better in the middle part of this year than I did last year. But I havent played as well in the summer this year as I did last year.
Woods would seem to have an advantage this week since the course is long and reasonably wide. It is an advantage that he relishes, the chance to use his driver.
Thats the key, said Tiger. If youre swinging well, any golf course is easier. At Southern Hills (in the U.S. Open) I wasnt playing that great. The only time I drove it good was at Lytham (in the British Open) Sunday. I drove it like I did last year. Unfortunately I didnt do that the first three days, so I didnt give myself much of a chance. I wouldnt say it was because it took driver out of my hand. Thank goodness it did. It was nice to hit 2-irons up there and at least have a chance.
The great thing about this (course) is, the fairways are a little soft, which the ball is not going to run if you hit it off-line. So if you hit a poor line drive, its going to stay. If you land the ball in the primary rough, its going to be very difficult to get it on the green in regulation.
Check out the Atlanta Athletic Club layout
He has done nothing in preparation for this championship. I just kind of took it easy, played a little golf here and there, but basically I just took it easy, he said. That was nice because I am playing six of the next seven weeks, three of which are in different countries.
Meanwhile, Tiger is chasing the rest, primarily Duval, the British Open champ. He hasnt changed any from the Duval that has become a very good friend of Woods.
David is still the same old David, said Tiger. Hes a good guy. I think hes going to be a little more confident now, especially in major championships, because I think he knows what it takes to win them now.
David and I are a little bit different from each other, but then we are very similar, too. We have very similar interests, we have very similar perspectives on life, and I think that is one of the reasons why weve become friends, weve become buds.
Put it this way: Ive enjoyed getting to know David. I know he doesnt always open up to everybody, and thats fine. But if he does know you, and he does trust you, he really opens up quite a bit. Its been really neat to get to know David.