Woods Singh Begin PGA Preparations

By Mercer BaggsAugust 8, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 PGA ChampionshipSPRINGFIELD, N.J. ' Steve Williams took the striped head cover off of Tiger Woods driver. He then handed it to his boss. One swing later, the head cover was back on.
Woods capped his practice session Monday with one last booming drive. He then twirled the club and handed it back to his caddie.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods and coach Hank Haney work on some putting drills Monday morning at Baltusrol.
Woods looked quite comfortable practicing before hundreds of patrons amid the heavy humidity at Baltusrol Golf Club, site of the 87th PGA Championship.
After playing 18 holes early Monday morning, Woods, with instructor Hank Haney in tow, wowed onlookers with prodigious drives on the practice range. He then drew great applause while hitting bunker shots from the adjacent practice area. Williams placed a ball on a tee for which Woods used as a target. When the worlds No. 1 clipped the tee like a bowling ball knocking down the center pin, fans seven and eight rows deep showcased approval.
Woods, who is seeking his third major victory of the season, having won the Masters and Open Championship, as well as his third career PGA victory, wasnt long for Baltusrol on the first day of this PGA week. He left about the time the clock struck noon.
Almost on cue, it was exit No. 1, enter No. 2.
Ten minutes after Woods departure, Vijay Singh casually arrived on site and officially registered for the event.
The defending champion then went to the practice range, where he glad-handed and joked around with Fred Couples, before heading out to the course.
Woods has a press conference scheduled for Tuesday; Singh will speak publicly Wednesday.
While quite a few players have been on the grounds since this past weekend, Monday was a day for the entire 156-man field to get a look at what will be the longest par-70 layout in the championships 87-year history.
U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell was back Stateside after an eight-day celebratory trip to his native New Zealand.
Back to work now, he said enthusiastically. Looking forward to playing this week.
Of course, that was before he got his first look at the venerable venue. After his round, he referred to it as a 'beast.'
The Lower Course at Baltusrol officially measures 7,392 yards and plays to a par 70. It features a pair of par-4s (Nos. 1 and 5) that extend beyond 475 yards and two more (Nos. 3 and 7) in excess of 500. It also boasts the 650-yard, par-5 17th -- the longest hole in major championship history, which along with the 554-yard 18th are the only two official par-5s on the course.
'As far as par-5s go, there's four of them on the front nine,' kidded Lee Janzen.
Im playing them as par-5s, Zach Johnson said half-jokingly about the quartet of lengthy par-4s on the outward half.
Johnson, who played eight holes Saturday and 15 more Sunday, said he hit a 5-iron into the green on the third hole and a 4-iron into the seventh. He went driver-3-wood-9-iron to reach 17.
Still, Darren Clarke, who played the course Sunday and Monday, thinks it may take double digits under par to prove victorious. The championship record is 265, meaning it would take 16 under this week to break that mark. Thats unlikely, Clarke said, but not entirely out of the question if the course were to remain in its current state.
Its in great shape, he said. Its a little bit soft at the moment, so I think the scoring is going to be pretty good.
If it stays soft, somebody could go low. But youre going to have to play extremely well to do that.
Twelve years ago, Janzen tied the U.S. Open 72-hole scoring record when he shot 8-under 272 on the Lower Course. That was the last time Baltusrol hosted a major championship, and the last time Janzen played the course prior to Monday.
Little things here and there were different, he said. I think theres a few more bunkers than I remember. And the course is very long. Theyve added yardage on nearly every hole since we were here 12 years ago.
In all, 270 yards have been added to the course since 93. But Janzen said the conditions are the biggest difference between now and then.
In 93 it was very hot. I believe we were in the 100-degree temperature (range) up until Saturday anyway, and it was very dry and very fast, he said. So the course played pretty short for its yardage then.
Currently, as Clarke said, the course is on the receptive side. Rain threatened Monday afternoon, but never materialized. The forecast for the early part of the week calls for temperatures in the upper-80s to low-90s with the possibilities of scattered thunderstorms.
Its been pretty damp so the course is real wet, but its in good condition, said Jim Furyk. The greens are slow now, but Im sure theyll speed up later in the week.
Mark Kuhns, the Director of Grounds at Baltusrol, said the course is currently playing a little slow to their liking. But he expects it to be in championship form come Thursday.
As the week progresses we will bring the speeds (on the greens) up, he said. Hopefully the gods will smile on us and itll dry out a bit.
Kuhns added that the greens are currently running at 10.6 to 11 on the stimp meter. He hopes to have them in the mid-11s by the time the tournament begins.
As for a projected winning score, Janzen anticipates something in single digits, probably around the 8-under number that won him his first U.S. Open.
Kuhns is hoping for something a little higher.
I would like to go to 5 under, he said.
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